BAR DISPUTE RESOLUTION GROUP FORUM (Counsel Forum) Minutes of Meeting held on November 25, 2011

Members Present:                                                               

Audrey Ramsay (Chair)                         
Jonathan Schrieder
Katherine Kolnhofer
Eric Grossman
Jeff Shinehoft
Catherine Zingg
Nestor Kostyniuk
Philippa Samworth
Lisa Chuyow
Joan Takahasi (via conference)

FSCO Attendees                                          

Asfaw Seife
John Lobo                                                       
Richard Feldman
Shayna Wiesenfeld                                
Christina Pearce
  1. Approval of Minutes – Meeting of September 23, 2011                  

    Approved as amended.
  2. Auto Discussion Update:

    Nothing new to report.
  3. eCalendar Update:

    Since July 2011, when eCalendar was rolled on an optional basis over 4,868 mediation files have been registered online. Reminder that the eCalendar will be mandatory on February 1, 2012, subject to certain exceptions such as for unrepresented applicants. More information available on the website or by contacting mediation enquiry line.
  4. Backlog Initiatives Update:

    Mediation Pilot Project Update:

    The Mediation Pilot Project is ongoing.

    Mandatory Settlement Blitz Days:
    Initiative has been successful in closing a significant number of files with a high rate of settlement. Ongoing bookings into February and March. 

    Consent Failures: letters continue to be sent out with an attached form to claimants and insurers, starting with the oldest files, to consider the option of failing mediation upon mutual consent.

    To date, there has been limited response.
  5. Implementation of s. 55 of the New SABS:

    Asfaw Seife advised that work is in progress regarding Section 55 screening. Further details of process of dealing with non-compliance of Section 55 will be provided for comments before finalization and distribution to staff and stakeholders for their feedback and comments.
  6. DRS Status Report – Statistics and Staffing Updates

    John Lobo, Richard Feldman and Asfaw Seife provided statistical updates for Mediation, Arbitration and Appeals with reference to the reports distributed to members.  

    Judicial Review:

    Updates since September 2011 were provided in a memo from Asfaw Seife to Forum members and reviewed.
  7. Follow-up discussion on Consent Dismissal Orders:

    Senior Arbitrator Richard Feldman followed up on a discussion that took place at the previous meeting, asking Counsel Forum members whether they desired the arbitration unit to continue issuing Consent Dismissal Orders.  A discussion followed in which members agreed that they did not require Consent Dismissal Orders, as long as the arbitration unit does not issue such orders to anyone. 
  8. Follow-up discussion on Pre-Hearing Briefs:

    Senior Arbitrator Richard Feldman followed up on an earlier discussion concerning filing by parties of pre-hearing and hearing briefs.  Members agreed that FSCO should discourage the serving and filing of large pre-hearing briefs (as only key documents are required) and, subject to the discretion of the presiding arbitrator, approved of FSCO returning such materials to the filing party following the conclusion of the pre-hearing conference.  Members also agreed that FSCO should discourage the filing of hearing briefs in advance of the hearing and that FSCO should continue to encourage the preparation of joint hearing briefs. A discussion ensued as to the best way(s) for FSCO to communicate these best practices to parties (including issuing a Practice Note, posting on the website, and including information on best practices in electronic and paper Notices and letters).
  9. Report of Mediator – Settlement of All Benefits:

    Discussion occurred on proposed changes to the Report of Mediator, specifically in those cases where there was a Full and Final Settlement.

    It was agreed that this matter would be further discussed at the next meeting.
  10. DRS Companies and Counsel Meeting Dates:

    General discussion on whether to keep the dates of DRS Companies and Counsel Forum Meetings close to each other so members can all be informed at the same time. Members decided to keep their dates fixed until summer. DRS Companies Forum Meetings do not have fixed dates.
  11. Other Business

    C. Zingg informed members that there will be an upcoming seminar on “The Evolving SABS and FSCO Arbitration of Personal Injury Claims: Working with the System One Year Later” scheduled for January 20, 2011. A brochure will be made available to circulate to members who wish to register for the program. C. Zingg will email brochure to Christina for circulation.
Next Meeting – January 27, 2012- Cancelled
Next Meeting – March 30, 2012