President's Message - Blazing new trails with APTLA
February 18, 2005
Robert M. Creamer
Civil Trial Practice: New Horizons
APTLA is forging new horizons. The organization has momentum and is striving ahead focused on two core purposes:
1. Obtaining legal remedies for those who have suffered injustice; and
2. Promoting first class legal education programs directed to its membership?s practices.
Obtaining Legal Remedies For Those Who Suffer Injustice
The Insurance Bureau of Canada (?IBC?) can spin it anyway they want but the fact of the matter is: 4.2 billion in profits for Insurance Industry is a staggering amount of money; premiums for consumers are higher than they have ever been; and car accident victims? rights have all but been expunged due to the arbitrary capping of injury damages.
The Province of New Brunswick took the lead on capping personal injury damage awards at $2,500.00 for innocent accident victims. Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island followed ? what a senseless exercise. There has been no time for the caps to have taken effect and the IBC is already announcing record profits. In fact, just as caps to damage awards were introduced by the Province of New Brunswick in July, 2003, the Insurance Industry announced over a billion dollar profit for the first 6 months of that year.
Consumers have paid dearly. Consumers gave up their legal rights and, at the same time, pay record high premiums.
Consumers may be battered but they are not yet beaten. The Atlantic Province Trial Lawyers Association are doing something about the erosion of legal rights. Our membership is focusing on preserving innocent victims? rights to Tort recovery.
Lawyers are challenging the Insurance Industry by suing for innocent victims and ensuring that the Industry pays the benefits that people are entitled to. Chris Correia?s article in this publication demonstrates that our members are determined. APTLA is not intimidated by the Insurance Industry.
Recently, the Nova Scotia Coalition against No-Fault Insurance filed a Notice of Intended Action against the Attorney General of Nova Scotia. The intent: to challenge the recent amendments to the Insurance Act of Nova Scotia. The coalition is basing their challenge on constitutional and Charter grounds. The coalition?s position is that the legislation discriminates against individuals suffering from certain types of pain, thus violating the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Further, the coalition is of the position that the Provincial Government exceeded its rights and powers by enacting regulations inconsistent with the legislation and in an undemocratic fashion.
APTLA, a member of the coalition, is providing the pro bono legal counsel and litigation support for the coalition. Barry Mason is spearheading the case. Many thanks to Barry, John McKiggan, Ray Wagner, Sean Layden, as well as members of the NS Political Action Committee for taking on this important fight. To quote our past President, Chesley F. Crosbie, Q.C., the time ?? is ripe for challenge on both charter and ultra vires grounds.?
APTLA is standing up for the rights of innocent accident victims.
First Class Legal Education Programs
In 2004, APTLA was involved in two very successful education conferences. The first was in Roseneath, Prince Edward Island, at the Rodd Brudenell River Resort. The conference was entitled ?Personal Injury Claims Stem to Stern, Part II: Winning At Trial?. The Brudenell conference was extremely well attended and attracted such speakers as the Honourable Justice John C. Bouck of the Supreme Court of British Columbia and the Honourable Justice S. David H. Jenkins of the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island. In addition to prominent Atlantic speakers, APTLA was able to attract noteable Ontario lawyers including Roger G. Oatley, John McLeish and James L. Vigmond. The second Conference ?Chronic Pain Cases: Winning Strategies In the Threshold Area? was the subject for the fall education conference held in Halifax. We were able to attract high caliber lawyers and experts alike, addressing topics related to chronic pain cases. We are very appreciative of the work of the Education Committee in coordinating these excellent conferences and, particularly, would like to express our gratitude to George A. McAllister, Q.C.
The substantive knowledge acquired at these education conferences is invaluable. The materials serve as a great resource and have an extremely practical benefit.
The notion of forging new trails can best be summarized by our upcoming educational conference. Chesley F. Crosbie, Q.C. and Geoff Aylward are spearheading the June, 2005 conference in St. John?s, Newfoundland. The theme: ?Civil Trial Practice - New Horizons?. Ches and Geoff are lining up a good roster of speakers. The topics deal with issues outside of auto insurance claims. This conference will deal with other aspects of litigation including such topics as environmental claims, nuisance claims, policy limit issues, good faith claims, corporate oppression remedies, class actions, commercial litigation, and employment litigation. There is no mistake that APTLA refers to these conferences as ?First Class?, ?Skill Sharpening?, ?Inspirational?, and ?Highly Relevant?. The organizers and speakers are among the best litigators in the country.
My term as President began somewhat unexpectedly on September 20, 2004, when founding members and Past President Benjamin B. Taylor of Summerside was appointed as Judge of the Trial Division of the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island. Our congratulations go to Ben Taylor on a well-deserved appointment. We know the Justice system in PEI is in good hands.
I would like to thank the membership and Executive Director, Libby Kinghorne, for their support and patience during the first few months of my term and look forward to continued dialogue as APTLA continues to Blaze New Trails.