Ont. Superior Court says LAT can't award punitive dmg under SABS

Ont. Superior Court says LAT can't award punitive dmg under SABS

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has affirmed that the License Appeal Tribunal (LAT) does not have the authority to award punitive damages under the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS Schedule).

The appellant challenged a LAT ruling that determined it lacked the power to adjudicate claims for punitive damages in disputes over statutory accident benefits. The primary contention was that the LAT should be equipped to impose punitive damages as a deterrent against insurer misconduct, arguing that this was in line with the SABS Schedule.

During the review of the appeal, the Superior Court examined various legal and statutory considerations. It noted that the License Appeal Tribunal Act of 1999, along with subsequent case law interpretations, strictly defines LAT's jurisdiction as statutory, without inherent judicial powers. It cited section 280 of the Insurance Act, which expressly delegates the resolution of disputes concerning entitlement and amounts of statutory accident benefits to the LAT, excluding other court proceedings except for appeals from LAT decisions or judicial reviews.

The court noted that punitive damages are typically financial awards in tort claims, which differ from principles like res judicata applied in its rulings. The LAT acknowledged that its jurisdiction is explicitly limited by the statutes, stating that punitive damages are outside the remedial scope provided by the legislative framework governing accident benefits disputes. The ruling confirmed the LAT's restricted jurisdiction as established by the existing statutory frameworks and prior jurisprudence.

Additionally, the court dismissed the appellant's constitutional challenge to section 280 of the Insurance Act. The court affirmed that the Supreme Court of Canada had upheld the legislature's prerogative to amend common law, and underscored LAT's sole jurisdiction over statutory accident benefits disputes, including the scope of remedies it can offer, which do not encompass punitive damages.

The Superior Court's ruling reiterates that while the LAT can address instances of unreasonable insurer conduct by acknowledging benefits incurred or issuing awards under specific regulatory provisions, it does not have the authority to award punitive damages.