The Financial Services Commission of Ontario has released the Fourth Edition of its Dispute Resolution Practice Code. This edition incorporates improvements arising out of extensive consultations with industry and client stakeholders, and draws on our experience in conducting mediations and arbitrations over the past 10 years.
Dispute resolution services at the Commission include mediation, neutral evaluation, arbitration and appeals. The Code provides comprehensive, easy-to-read information about the processes involved. The new Rules included in this edition are effective May 31, 2001, for both new applications and existing cases in the Dispute Resolution process. The only exception is for arbitration cases where a pre-hearing was held before May 31, 2001. In those cases, the old rules apply unless the parties agree or an arbitrator orders otherwise. The old forms will be accepted until June 29, 2001. The Rules portion of the Code is made by the Commission's Director of Arbitrations under the authority of section 21 of the Insurance Act and section 25.1 of the Statutory Powers Procedure Act.
The Fourth Edition refines and expands on the Third Edition, dated April 15, 1997, Update # 1 issued on June 1, 1996, and Update # 2 issued on November 1, 1996. The Fourth Edition reflects changes prompted by the passage of the Financial Services Commission of Ontario Act, 1997, which amalgamated the former Ontario Insurance Commission with several other financial service regulators to create the Financial Services Commission of Ontario on July 1, 1998. In addition, the Red Tape Reduction Act, 1999 resulted in changes to the Statutory Powers Procedure Act, giving adjudicative bodies greater powers to manage and streamline their process.
Key Changes in the Fourth Edition
Users should be aware of a number of important changes in the Fourth Edition of the Code. To facilitate the transition from the Third Edition to the Fourth Edition, the format and organization of the Code has been maintained.
The Preamble to the Code now provides the time lines parties can expect for delivery of the services of the Dispute Resolution Group.
Extensive changes have been made to Rules of Procedure (Section A) to better protect the interests of a party with a disability, to promote earlier document production, to expand the accessibility to neutral evaluation at the Commission, to encourage earlier identification and notification of potential witnesses, and to clarify the penalties associated with a failure to comply with undertakings or orders.
The Practice Notes (Section C) have been revised to reflect the changes to the Rules of Procedure in Section A. Five new practice notes have been added including: Practice Note 3, Participation and Representation at Dispute Resolution ("Authority to Bind") which replaces the former Practice Note 3 entitled Authority to Bind; Practice Note 6, Neutral Evaluation at the Financial Services Commission; Practice Note 11, Jurisdictional Issues Arising in Mediation; Practice Note 12, What Claimants need to know about Designated Assessment Centres; Practice Note 13, What Insurers need to know when referring issues to a Designated Assessment Centre.
Section D, Fees and Assessments, updates the fees and assessments for the dispute resolution process. Section E, Settlement Regulation, and Section F, Expense Regulation, remain unchanged.
Finally, the Dispute Resolution Forms in Section G have been completely revised to provide a clearer, more "user friendly" format as well as to reflect some of the new requirements for early production of documents under the Rules of Procedure.
Chief Executive Officer and
Superintendent of Financial Services
May 18, 2001