On May 25, 2022, the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (“OTLA”) hosted a roundtable to discuss and advise on recent updates with the License Appeal Tribunal (“LAT”).
As a result of the recent Covid-19 pandemic, many applications, case conferences, and hearings were put on hold until the LAT was able to determine a manner to handle these proceedings given the unprecedented nature of the pandemic. This has resulted in a severe backlog of applications, case conferences and hearings to be held.
In addition to the backlog, there has been a significant increase in the number of applications being submitted to the LAT. As a result, the average time between each step is increasing as well. Currently, the length of days between an application being submitted and a decision being rendered is averaging 589 days. This is roughly 1.6 years, at minimum.
A new procedural update at the LAT is that the LAT now requires legal representatives to schedule case conferences much sooner than most are ready for. If parties are not prepared for the scheduled case conference they are forced to withdraw their application, rather than having it adjourned. Additionally, the LAT is no longer scheduling hearings at the case conferences. At the end of your case conference, you are to provide three dates that all parties are mutually agreeable to and the LAT will proceed to schedule one of the three days for your hearing. If you do not agree to any of the dates, the LAT will schedule the hearing date without your consent.
Adjournments are no longer easily granted. Adjournments are only granted for extenuating circumstances. What those extenuating circumstances remain to be seen as the LAT has refused to adjourn any matter even if it itself has double booked your legal representative essentially sending the message that your legal representative has to be in two places at once, even if your legal representative is in the hospital and any other medical emergency. There is now a complete lack of flexibility at the LAT.
Since December 2021, 61 new adjudicators have been appointed to the LAT. Of the newly appointed adjudicators, 51 are new to the LAT entirely. This raises the concern of whether the newly appointed adjudicators are qualified to handle these matters. Additionally, adjudicators are being trained to not award special damages. One should consider themselves lucky if they are able to seek special damages for Attendant Care or Income Replacement Benefits. The LAT is taking the view that being determined Catastrophically Impaired (“CAT”) is a privilege and thus unlikely to be awarded special damages for CAT cases.
There is an ongoing effort being made to minimize the time between LAT hearings and rendering a decision. This currently takes approximately 6 months. We are hoping that this will be reduced to 3 months.
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