Toronto personal injury lawyer Joseph Campisi says that a report handed down from the Financial Services Commission of Ontario requesting lawyers to solve their mediation and/or arbitration backlog is not necessarily a bad thing.
FSCO says this is the result of an increase in the amount of applications that they receive, and Campisi agrees. “If you look at the volume of applications filed in the recent annual reports published by the Superintendant of Insurance, you will see an increase in the number of applications being filed with FSCO each year,” says Campisi, a partner at Carranza LLP. “In my doctoral thesis, I looked at the efficiency and sufficiency of motor vehicle accident compensation. I found that there are real issues associated with delivering meaningful accident benefits compensation.”
The FSCO has released a request for proposal that will help lawyers solve their mediation and arbitration backlog problem. “The process used to take a few months, from the time an application for mediation was filed to the time a mediation was held,” says Campisi. “Now, you’re looking at a 10 to 12 month wait period to secure a mediation date. FSCO is looking to hire assistance to eat through the backlog and shorten the delay.
Campisi says Caranza LLP, has a plan in place to eliminate the current wait time. “We have applied for mediation early and we have followed up with FSCO to secure early dates,” he says. “Some firms have filed statements of claim in the Superior Court to by-pass this delay. I have preferred to avoid this because even though the delay in conducting a mediation is resolved, proceeding by way of action is more expensive and a litigant will encounter delays in moving their claim through the production and discovery phase of the litigation, not to mention the delay in securing a trial date.”
What this means for Caranza clients is “a shorter wait time for a mediation to be conducted,” says Campisi. “The quicker a mediation is held, the earlier the prospects for resolving issues in dispute. If this is not possible, at least my clients can move forward and apply for arbitration once the statutory requirement of mediation is met.”
Says Campisi: “A claimant cannot apply for arbitration or issue a statement of claim until a mediation is conducted. If the mediator fails the mediation, I can now move the claim forward through the arbitration or court process.”