ARTICLE
10 April 2024

Hands Off: Discussing The Court's Reluctance To Interfere In Ongoing Administrative Tribunal Processes

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Dentons

Contributor

Republished with permission from the Insurance Brokers Association of Alberta's magazine The Alberta Broker (February/March 2024).
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Republished with permission from the Insurance Brokers Association of Alberta's magazine The Alberta Broker (February/March 2024).

Mansuri v Dominion of Canada General Insurance Company

In this case, Murtaza Mansuri, Javid Mansuri and Mohammad Mansuri (collectively, the "Applicants") were denied certain collision benefits by Dominion of Canada General Insurance Company ("Dominion") after being involved in two separate motor vehicle accidents. The first accident occurred in 2018 and involved Murtaza Mansuri. The second accident also occurred in 2018 and involved Mohammad and Javid Mansuri. Upon being denied benefits, the Applicants put forth five applications for dispute resolution to the Licence Appeal Tribunal (the "Tribunal") pursuant to section 280(2) of the Insurance Act to challenge Dominion's denials.

On March 1, 2022, the Applicants filed a Notice of Motion before the Tribunal relating to the five applications, alleging that Dominion had breached duties of privacy and confidentiality owed to the Applicants, and Dominion's counsel and its adjuster had a conflict of interest with respect to the Applicants' claims for benefits. The Applicants then also sought an order from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (the "Court") to disqualify Dominion's counsel and its adjusters from handling their claims and to compel Dominion to retain separate counsel and adjusters to handle the claims of each of the Applicants. At the time this matter was heard by the Court, the Tribunal had not yet rendered a final decision on the merits of the five applications.

Dominion argued that the court application was premature, and that the Court should not consider an application for judicial review until the underlying tribunal proceeding has been completed.1 This principle was quoted with approval by the Ontario Court of Appeal in Volochay v College of Massage Therapists of Ontario on the basis that this would prevent the fragmentation of administrative processes and unnecessary costs.2 Furthermore, the Court reaffirmed that, absent exceptional circumstances, applications for judicial review of administrative decisions should not be brought forward until the end of the tribunal's proceedings and only after the applicant has exhausted all remedies within the administrative scheme.3 Only few circumstances will qualify as "exceptional".4

The Applicants asserted that this circumstance was indeed exceptional due to the absence of alternative remedies of reconsideration and appeal; this, argued the Applicants, left them with no choice but to seek judicial review at this juncture.5

Analysis of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice

The Court held that the burden is on the Applicants to justify judicial intervention prior to the conclusion of the underlying administrative process.6 This is a high bar to meet, as it is generally difficult to show that an "exceptional" circumstance exists.7

The Court found that the Applicants erred in their submission that no alternative to early judicial review existed.8 While it is true that the Applicants had no access to reconsideration at this stage of the administrative process, this is simply part of the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule statutory scheme, which the Court held was entitled to deference.9 Once the underlying administrative applications were completed, the Applicants would then have access to reconsideration and appeal pursuant to the statute.10 The Applicants would then also have access to judicial review, subject to the Court's discretion and to the Applicants meeting the high bar required to necessitate judicial review.11

The Court also rejected the Applicants' argument that early judicial review was justified in the interests of efficiency.12 Even if the impact of such an interlocutory judicial review was material, this would still not outweigh the benefits of allowing the administrative scheme to run its full course.13 In fact, the Court noted that judicial review may not be needed at all, depending on the outcome of the administrative Tribunal applications.14

The Court also held the Applicants would not suffer from irreparable prejudice if the privacy and conflict of interest issues were not determined through early judicial review.15 The Applicants had not shown that any alleged deficiencies in the administrative process could not be cured on an ultimate appeal.16

As to whether Counsel for Dominion ought to be removed, the Court again found that this motion did not constitute an exceptional circumstance that outweighed the general benefits associated with allowing the Tribunal proceeding to run its full course.17

In all, the Court held that the Applicants did not meet the high bar needed to justify early judicial review. While the Tribunal had initially decided that there was no merit to the Applicants' claims relating to privacy an conflict of interest, the Applicants failed to show that any deficiencies in that initial decision would not be rectifiable upon on an ultimate appeal.18 Accordingly, the application for judicial review was dismissed due to its prematurity.19

The Take-Away

Mansuri offers valuable insight as to how a court will treat an application for early judicial review of an administrative hearing. It is clear that the bar to justify early judicial review is a high one, and will only succeed where the applicant can show that "exceptional circumstances" exist which necessitate judicial intervention prior to the conclusion of the underlying administrative proceeding.

Furthermore, the Court's decision illustrates the high level of deference afforded to administrative tribunals in light of the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision in Vavilov v Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration). Namely, a court will be hesitant to interfere in an administrative scheme, particularly when any alleged deficiencies in an initial tribunal decision could be cured at an ultimate appeal.

Footnotes

1. Mansuri v Dominion of Canada General Insurance Company, 2023 ONSC 5764 at para 28 [ Mansuri].

2.Mansuri at para 28, citing Volochay v College of Massage Therapists of Ontario, 2012 ONCA 541 at para 69.

3. Mansuri at para 29.

4. Mansuri at para 30.

5. Mansuri at para 34.

6. Mansuri at para 36.

7. Mansuri at para 36.

8. Mansuri at para 37.

9. Mansuri at para 37, citing Vavilov v Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), 2019 SCC 65 at paras 24 & 36.

10. Mansuri at para 37.

11. Mansuri at para 37.

12. Mansuri at para 38.

13. Mansuri at para 38.

14. Mansuri at para 38.

15. Mansuri at para 39.

16. Mansuri at para 40.

17. Mansuri at para 42.

4 Mansuri at para 43.

19. Mansuri at para 44.

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