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July 11, 2012

SABS - Pursuing Litigation without a Mediator's Report

This motion involved plaintiffs in four actions who commenced actions against their insurers for statutory accident benefits.

The Insurance Act imposes a mandatory mediation scheme in accident benefits cases.  Rule 19 of the Dispute Resolution Practice Code (DRPC) provides that mediation must be concluded within 60 days of the filing of an application.  Once mediation has failed, the plaintiff may pursue litigation.  In all four cases, the plaintiffs filed mediation applications and after 60 days passed without a mediator being appointed, they wrote to FSCO requesting a mediator's report confirming mediation had failed.  FSCO refused, taking the position that the 60 day period does not begin to run until a mediator is appointed.

The insurers brought motions to dismiss on the basis that mediation had not failed.  Justice Sloan dismissed the motion.  The 60 day period in the DRPC is mandatory.  The plaintiffs did not require a report from FSCO in order to claim that mediation failed through non-compliance with r. 19.  The plaintiffs were therefore able to show that mediation had failed and they were entitled to proceed with litigation.

This decision is a clever way to get around the lengthy back-up taking place at FSCO; however, does it transfer the backlog to the court system?

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