In Riggs Estate v. Intact, 2019 ONSC 6846, the terms of a global settlement of a tort claim and an accident benefits claim were agreed to at a private mediation.
The claimant unexpectedly died before executing a release and a Settlement Disclosure Notice with respect to the accident benefits claim. These documents were instead signed by the spouse and estate trustee of the claimant. The insurer argued that the settlement of the accident benefits claim was not enforceable.
The estate of the claimant brought an application before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. Justice Reid held that the Licence Appeal Tribunal has exclusive jurisdiction to determine whether there is an enforceable settlement.
However, if the court had jurisdiction to determine this issue, Justice Reid would have found that the settlement was binding and enforceable.
Justice Reid rejected the insurer’s argument that the insured person must personally execute a Settlement Disclosure Notice. His Honour noted that it is not uncommon for an accident benefits claimant to be under the age of majority or suffering from a physical or mental disability. In such circumstances, an authorized personal representative must sign for the claimant.
Moreover, there was a meeting of the minds as to the terms of the settlement. Although the claimant’s imminent death was not contemplated at the time the settlement was reached, his life expectancy would have been one of the contingencies considered when the quantum of the settlement was established.
Further, the settlement was not expressly contingent on the claimant personally signing the settlement documents.