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Same counsel can’t work for insurer on both priority dispute and AB claim: Court

An Ontario auto insurer involved in a priority dispute with another insurer should have used a different counsel in that dispute than the one used for the main accident benefits claim with the insureds, the Ontario Superior Court has ruled.

The issue came up in the case of The Personal Insurance Company v. Jia, in which the same counsel represented the insurer in both the priority dispute and in the accident benefits dispute.

The accident benefits claimants raised the issue of a conflict before the Ontario Licensing Appeal Tribunal (LAT). They argued that the insurance company’s counsel, in support of the insurer’s denial of their claim, had misused information that had been compelled from them in an examination under oath during the insurer’s priority dispute with another insurer.

The LAT ruled against the claimants, but the vice chair of the Safety, Licensing Appeals and Standards Tribunals Ontario (SLASTO) reversed the LAT’s decision on appeal. On appeal by The Personal, the Ontario Superior Court upheld SLASTO’s decision.

“[SLASTO] found that there is a conflict in counsel for the insurer acting in both the priority dispute and the benefits dispute,” the Ontario Superior Court of Justice found. “[SLASTO] found that breach of the statutory scheme was improper and prejudicial to the respondents, defeating the carefully balanced process prescribed by law.”

Read full article here

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