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Appeals of Preliminary Issues in Administrative Proceedings Must Await Final Decision

In administrative tribunal matters, a party generally cannot appeal a preliminary issue when there are other issues to be determined. This principle was noted in the recent decision of the Divisional Court in Millar v. The Cooperators General Insurance Company, 2021 ONSC 6643.

The claimant was involved in a motor vehicle accident and sought statutory accident benefits from Cooperators. The Licence Appeal Tribunal rendered a decision on a preliminary issue that the claimant was a dependent of his mother and was entitled to coverage under his mother’s insurance policy with Cooperators.

A request for reconsideration at the Licence Appeal Tribunal was denied. Cooperators then appealed to the Divisional Court. The appeal was dismissed because it was premature.

The Divisional Court indicated that there is a well-developed line of jurisprudence that the court will generally decline to hear appeals from preliminary decisions where other issues are yet to be determined by the tribunal.

The policy reasons for declining to hear premature appeals include avoiding inefficiency and expense. An appeal may not be necessary after all steps in the proceeding have been taken. Further, any appeal will have the benefit of a full procedural and evidentiary record. Moreover, there will be fewer delays in arriving at a result, caused by pausing the proceedings for appeals or judicial reviews.