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Ontario to change Rules of Civil Procedure to expedite court processes, but jury out on savings to insurers


September 16, 2009   by Canadian Underwriter


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Upcoming changes to Ontario’s Rules of Civil Procedure are designed to expedite cases before the courts, but insurers shouldn’t expect huge savings in claims costs as a result of the changes, one counsel cautions.
On their face, the changes would appear to make insurers’ lives easier by reducing the time for some trial procedures, including the discovery procedure.
In discovery, lawyers representing all parties are allowed to ask opposing parties questions under oath. The answers given can be entered as trial evidence.
As of Jan. 1, 2010, the Rules of Civil Procedure will cap discovery time limits at seven hours per party, unless both parties agree otherwise.
Under Simplified Rules of Procedure, lawyers will be allowed only two hours per party for oral discovery. In addition, more cases will be subject to this simplified rule, since the changes will increase the eligibility for cases to be heard under the simplified rules from cases under Cdn$50,000 to cases under Cdn$100,000.
Speaking about these changes at PartnerRe’s 2009 Technical Seminar: Auto Casualty in Toronto, Van Krkachovski of McCague Peacock Borlack McInnis & Lloyd LLP said he hopes the changes will help focus the parties on the substantive legal issues, and thereby potentially facilitate a quicker route to settlement.
But don’t expect major savings as an insurer at the end of the day, he added.
“The fact that this [counsel] is working 20 hours instead of 18 hours doesn’t really matter that much in the scheme of things,” said Krkachovski. “In terms of pure cost savings, it’s going to have less of effect… because from my experience, experienced lawyers take less time on discoveries because they know what they are looking for if they focus on the important questions.”
Still, he added, the new rules should cut down on the number of discoveries that can last for several days in the hands of some, less experienced counsel.
A full inventory of the reforms can be found at:
http://cfcj-fcjc.org/inventory/reform.php?id=62