March 8, 2005 by Canadian Underwriter
An Ontario Superior Court judge has turned down a move by several tobacco companies to recover legal costs from recent failed class action lawsuits filed by smokers in the province. The companies – Imperial Tobacco Ltd., Rothmans Benson & Hedges Inc. and JTI-Macdonald Corp. – had requested reimbursement of more than $1.2 million in costs from plaintiffs and their lawyers. "The tobacco companies alleged that their defence costs were needlessly driven up by plaintiff lawyers who were the real “powers” behind the suit," notes a statement from plaintiffs’ lawyers at Koskie Minsky LLP. The court found, amongst other reasons, to make plaintiffs’ lawyers pay defence costs in a failed class action would “likely have the effect of rendering the goals underlying the Class Proceedings Act, 1992, unachievable”.
The Property-Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) is applauding a producer compensation model passed by the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL). PCI says the NCOIL model is preferable to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) model because it does not require written consent of commissions by consumers and does not extend to agents working solely for one insurance company.
Japanese non-life insurers can look forward to some relief following a decade of economic depression which constrained top-line growth, including poor investment returns, notes a new study by Benfield Group. In "Concentrated Development" the broker notes intense competition prevails in this developed market, specifically in motor, which accounts for half of premiums. "Differentiation is increasingly focused on product and services, as market conditions offer little scope to compete on price," the report notes. The advantages will be most evident for the few large players remaining after the rabid consolidation since 2001. The top five insurers in Japan write 82% of the business.