The Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT) begins accepting applications to resolve auto insurance disputes on April 1, 2016. LAT has completed a first round of recruitment for adjudicators and case management staff. Adjudicators are Order-in-Council appointments. Training of adjudicators and staff is underway.
FSCO will continue to operate beyond April 1, 2016. If mediation has been completed, but the arbitration process has not begun, a party can apply to LAT and begin the new process. If the case already has been assigned an arbitration case number by FSCO, the case remains at FSCO. Existing cases will not be transferred from FSCO to LAT.
Although the new system follows the recommendations put forth by Justice Cunningham in 2016, a number of recommendations have been modified:
Justice Cunningham recommended that mandatory mediation (along with pre-arbitration hearings) be eliminated and that a settlement meeting be held before arbitration (Recommendations #4 and #13). LAT has created a case conference prior to arbitration which follows the intent of settlement meetings proposed by Cunningham.
Justice Cunningham recommended that statutory timelines and sanctions regarding settlement meetings, arbitration hearings and the release of arbitration decisions be created (Recommendation #6). However, no statutory timelines have been created and LAT will manage timeline requirements. This is essentially the status quo.
Justice Cunningham recommended that the policy of no application fees for claimants at the settlement meeting stage be continued (Recommendation #7). LAT has introduced a $100 application fee.
Justice Cunningham recommended that settlement meetings be conducted by video conferencing rather than by telephone in cases where it is not feasible for the parties to meet in person (Recommendation #14). LAT is continuing the current practice and most case conferences will take place over the phone.
Justice Cunningham recommended an adjournment fee be charged to the party requesting an adjournment in the absence of exceptional circumstances (Recommendation #16). No adjournment fee has been established.
Justice Cunningham recommended that the settlement of future medical and rehabilitation benefits be prohibited until two years after the date of the accident (Recommendation #17). The SABS have not been amended and settlements will still be permitted one year after the date of the accident.
Justice Cunningham recommended that each insurer establish an internal review process (Recommendations #19, #20 and #21). A company internal review process has not yet been established.
Justice Cunningham recommended criteria for streaming disputes to paper reviews, expedited in-person hearings and full in-person hearings (Recommendations #25, #26 and #27). The criteria have not been adopted. LAT adjudicators will exercise his or her discretion to determine the format of a hearing, which is the status quo.
Below is the full dispute resolution process: