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Lack of mediation at LAT problematic: Singer

The elimination of mandatory mediation under Ontario’s new Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule was a mistake, Toronto-area civil litigator Darryl Singer tells Law Times.

“It gets rid of a lot of files that then don’t have to go through to an arbitration,” says Singer, principal of Singer Barristers Professional Corporation.

He says three-quarters of his cases were resolved through mediation before the Licence Appeals Tribunal (LAT) began hearing accident benefits disputes instead of the Financial Services Commission of Ontario.

Now Singer says he has noticed a trend that insurers would rather walk away than negotiate a settlement. 

“The two major shortcomings of the LAT is it eliminates very early mediation of the AB [accident benefit] claims and also in many cases eliminates the opportunity for an actual full-blown arbitration in place of a written submission,” he says.

As the article explains, the removal of mediation was part of a suite of changes to the province's accident insurance benefits system in 2016.

The government’s goal was to develop an efficient and effective way for claimants to access the benefits through early resolution and reduced timelines, the article says.

Instead of mediation, the system advocates the use of case conferences, a confidential forum “providing a preliminary assessment, resolving some or all of the issues, narrowing the issues, setting hearing parameters, setting a hearing date, location and method,” Sarah Copeland, spokeswoman for the office of the executive chairwoman for the Safety, Licensing Appeals and Standards Tribunals Ontario, tells Law Times.

Still, Singer says he has serious concerns about the system and its tendency to avoid in-person hearings in favour of written submissions.

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