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June 25, 2014

New Practice Directions

As of July 1, 2014 there are new Practice Directions that come into effect across Ontario.  There is a new province-wide direction and well as new ones for each judicial region.  

Here is the link to the provincial direction:

Here is the link to the regional directions:


It is important to be aware of these Practice Directions because some of them change the requirements under the Rules; for example, whereas the Rules do not require factums for each motion, the Practice Direction says factums are required for all long motions. 

June 19, 2014

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June 18, 2014

Laches Applies to Loss Transfer Actions

Insurers dealing with loss transfers should be aware of the decision in Zurich Insurance Company v. TD General Insurance Company, 2014 ONSC 3191 (S.C.J), where the Court dismissed the claim.

The claim arose out of a motor vehicle accident that occurred July 14, 1999.  In 2010, approximately 11 years after the accident, TD sent Zurich a Notice of Loss Transfer alleging Zurich's insured was 100% at fault.  Shortly after, TD made two requests for indemnification.  In 2011, TD brought an application requiring Zurich to participate in an arbitration.  Zurich brought a motion to decide a preliminary issue as to whether the application was barred by the equitable doctrine of laches and the Limitations Act.  The arbitrator dismissed the motion and Zurich appealed.

Justice Lederman held that TD's claim was not barred by the Limitation Act, relying on decision in Markel Insurance v. ING Insurance Company of Canada, 2012 ONCA 218 (CanLII), where the Court of Appeal held that the limitation period runs from the day the first party insurer requests loss transfer from the second party insurer.

However, Justice Lederman held that laches applied in the circumstances.  Applying laches in the circumstances was consistent with the fusion of law and equity to achieve just results.  He held that acquiescence is a stand-alone basis for laches, and there need not be prejudice for the doctrine to apply.  The 11-year delay coupled with a directive that the first party insurer notify the second party insurer promptly and the fact the TD is a sophisticated insurer, gave rise to an inference that it had abandoned or waived its rights to the claim. 

June 11, 2014

The “Curtain” of Asserted Claims of Privilege Lifted to Permit a Full Examination of all Available Evidence

In Tomasone v. Capo, Sgro LLP, 2014 ONSC 2922 (CanLII) the defendant had provided two legal opinions to the plaintiffs which the plaintiffs claimed failed to meet the requisite standard of care. The plaintiffs sued the defendant in negligence. The defendant brought a motion for summary judgment asserting that the plaintiffs’ claim was statute barred by the Limitations Act, 2002.

In defence to the summary judgment motion, the plaintiffs put forward affidavit evidence suggesting they discovered their claims against the defendant after retaining counsel. Their counsel also swore affidavits but during cross-examinations they refused to answer any questions about when or how they discovered those claims.

In advance of the summary judgment motion, the defendant moved for answers to refusals with respect to discoverability, particularly dealing with information and documentation the plaintiffs claimed privilege over.

Master Short considered whether the plaintiffs could rely on privilege in these circumstances and concluded at paragraph 48 as follows:
The plaintiff ought not to be allowed to rely on discoverability arguments to seek to avoid a limitations defence, without making full disclosure with respect to all relevant facts relating to what knowledge was acquired and when.

Master Short also considered the defendant’s argument that even if privilege applied, the plaintiffs waived privilege. Master Short agreed, taking into account the following factors inter alia:
1) the plaintiffs undertook to prove their action was not statue-barred and they put their state of mind and their lawyer’s mind in issue to argue that the action was not statute-barred;

2) the plaintiffs relied upon the affidavit evidence of their lawyer; and

3) the plaintiffs subpoenaed former counsel to give evidence.

Master Short went on to review the guidance provided by the Supreme Court of Canada in Hryniak v. Mauldin, 2014 SCC 7 regarding the importance of full disclosure in light of the court’s power on the hearing of summary judgment motions to assess the quality and sufficiency of the evidence and the requirement that the parties "put their best foot forward".
The plaintiffs were ordered to answer the questions they refused related to the timing of receipt and review of relevant documents and the timing of investigations into possible claims against the defendant.