As of April 1, 2016, the Licence Appeal Tribunal (“LAT”) of the Safety, Licensing Appeals and Standards Tribunal Ontario (“SLASTO”) will assume all new applications for dispute resolution services under the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (“SABS”).
The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (“FSCO”) will no longer accept applications for mediation, neutral evaluation, and arbitration after March 31, 2016. This includes applications for arbitration where the Report of the Mediator is issued before or after April 1, 2016. However, FSCO will continue to be responsible for all files that remain open as of March 31, 2016.
Background to the Transformation Project
In August 2013, the Honourable J. Douglas Cunningham, a former Superior Court judge, was appointed to conduct a review of Ontario’s automobile insurance dispute resolution system (DRS).
In February 2014, the “Ontario Automobile Insurance Dispute Resolution System Review” Final Report was issued. The Report contained a list of recommendations for the DRS.
The Ontario government responded to these recommendations through Bill 15, the Fighting Fraud and Reducing Automobile Insurance Rates Act, 2014. Bill 15 received Royal Assent on November 20, 2014. The bill amended the Insurance Act and established a new system for disputes regarding entitlement to benefits under the SABS. This new system involves the creation of a new process at the LAT.
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The LAT is one of five adjudicative tribunals that make up SLATSO. The other tribunals are:
- Animal Care Review Board
- Fire Safety Commission
- Ontario Civilian Police Commission
- Ontario Parole Board
New dispute resolution process
The expectation of this new system is that the total process must be completed within six months.
If an insurer denies a benefit under the SABS, the insured will submit an application to SLATSO. Once the application is received, the documents will be assessed by the Tribunal staff. A decision will be made as to whether SLATSO has the jurisdiction to hear the application. If it is within the Tribunal’s jurisdiction, the Tribunal staff will collect more information and ensure that documents are perfected.
A case conference will then be scheduled. Parties will have to submit case conference briefs, which fully canvas settlement, as well as a list of witnesses and evidence to be relied on at the hearing. Settlement offers will be exchanged at the case conference stage. Once the case conference summary is received, the Adjudicator will make a decision on the type of hearing process (written, electronic or in-person). If the matter does not settle, a case conference meeting will take place to confirm the hearing type decision. The anticipated timeline from the day the application is received by the Tribunal to the date of the case conference meeting confirming the type of hearing will be 45 to 60 days.
The parties will then proceed to a written, electronic (phone or video), or oral/in-person hearing. If the hearing was written, a decision will be posted within 30 days. If the hearing was electronic, the decision will be posted within 45 days, and if the hearing was in-person, the decision will be posted within 60 to 90 days.
For a visual representation of the new dispute resolution process, see this chart.
Applications to the Director of Arbitrations for appeals may only be made where the application for the appointment of an arbitrator was received by FSCO on or before March 31, 2016.
Likewise, applications to the Director of Arbitrations for variation or revocation may only be made where the application for the appointment of an arbitrator was received by FSCO on or before March 31, 2016.
The Office of the Director of Arbitrations shall be continued until the date on which all notices of appeal and all applications for variation or revocation have been finally determined.
SABS provisions that apply to the dispute resolution process at FSCO will continue to apply, as they read on March 31, 2016, to all applications that were received by FSCO before the transition date, but are not finally determined before that date. The SABS will also be amended, where necessary, to apply to applications filed at the LAT.
For more information about accessing automobile insurance dispute resolution services as of April 1, 2016, visit the Safety, Licensing Appeals and Standards Tribunal Ontario website here: SLATSO.