Amici Curiae: Insurance Payments in Ontario and a New Arbitration Organization for North America

Lawyer wants Insurance Act amendments proclaimed to give judges greater discretion

Last year, Nadia Cyr was murdered by her husband, who was convicted and is now appealing the decision. The husband was named beneficiary in two insurance policies, and if his appeal is successful, will be entitled to a $500,000 policy payment. Nadia’s father, Nicholas Gehl, a Waterloo, Ontario lawyer, is now arguing that the province should immediately proclaim an amendment to s.194 of the Ontario Insurance Act:

194. (1) Where a beneficiary predeceases the person whose life is insured, and no disposition of the share of the deceased beneficiary in the insurance money is provided in the contract or by a declaration, the share is payable,

(a) to the surviving beneficiary

The proposed change adds a new subsection:

(5) Subsection (1) applies in the case of a disclaiming beneficiary or in the case of a beneficiary determined by a court to be disentitled to insurance money as if the disclaiming or disentitled beneficiary died before the person whose life is insured.

The amendment is similar to provisions in Alberta and British Columbia statutes, but has yet to be proclaimed as it is still under review. Although Gehl recognizes that the new provision will not have any retroactive effect, he wants to give judges the discretion needed to prevent those who were previously convicted of murder and later released on procedural claims from collecting insurance money. In addition, as it is now, if a named sole beneficiary does not receive the funds, dependents or other family members cannot claim the payment, which would go to the state.


International Court of Arbitration opens New York office

Last week, the International Court of Arbitration (ICA) announced that it would be opening an office in New York City to serve the arbitration needs of Canada and the United States. Its two major competitors are the American Arbitration Association and the London Court of International Arbitration. The three organizations each have a staff of arbitrators that can be selected by parties who have opted for arbitration as a method of resolving commercial disputes.

The ICC has already partnered with the Arbitration Place in downtown Toronto, a leading facility that hosts both domestic and international arbitration hearings. The significance of the ICC’s move is that it widens the pool of arbitrators that North Americans might want to select. Canadians figure largely in the arbitration community, with the World Bank ranking it fifth in terms of its conditions for arbitrating commercial disputes.

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