Vancouver arbitration centre takes on ICBC motor vehicle claim disputes

The Vancouver International Arbitration Centre has begun taking on motor vehicle accident claim cases in a bid to reduce the backlog in the current court system.

The VanIAC is taking on assessing these cases in a pilot program in conjunction with the Insurance Corp. of British Columbia, officials said. In order for cases to qualify for VanIAC arbitration, the case must be under $200,000 in terms of the monetary amount at issue.

To expedite the adjudication process and to reduce costs, the program limits VanIAC arbitration to last no more than one day – with an exception that the single arbitrator on the case may deem it necessary for an additional half-day for resolution.

The parties in the dispute must also submit opening and closing arguments in writing, selecting a sole arbitrator from a roster provided by VanIAC.

VanIAC managing director Barry Penner said in a statement that the move demonstrates not only the public’s increase trust of arbitration but also in the VanIAC – which is the oldest arbitral institution in B.C. at 36 years (beginning under the previous name of BC International Commercial Arbitration Centre).

“Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, VanIAC has continued to see an increase in the number of cases under administration,” Penner said in a statement. “Arbitration has become a widely accepted alternative to the court system in commercial matters because it can be a more efficient method of resolving time-consuming and costly disagreements.”

According to statistics, about 18% of scheduled trials at BC Supreme Court has experienced “bumps” and other delays due to backlog in the system. That number spikes to almost 28% in the Vancouver court, according to BC Supreme Court’s own data.

The pilot program calls for 25 cases to be moved to VanIAC jurisdiction, with officials assessing whether to continue to initiative after those cases are completed.