ICBC Not Limited to 30 Days in Participating in "Uninsured Vehicle" Actions
Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Court of Appeal discussing the purpose of (and ICBC’s obligations under) the “uninsured vehicle” provisions of BC’s Insurance (Vehicle) Act.
Section 20 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act provides a pool of $200,000 of available compensation from ICBC for damages caused by uninsured motorists. When a claimant sues an uninsured motorist and is in a default judgement position they cannot access this pool of money from ICBC unless the corporation is given 30 days notice of this development to allow ICBC to take control of the defence of the litigation.
In last week’s case (Shapiro v. Dailey) the BC Court of Appeal had the opportunity to discuss this time limit and ICBC’s ability to intervene in a lawsuit even beyond this time.
In Shaprio the Plaintiff was injured in a 2005 collision. She sued for damages. In the course of the lawsuit ICBC took the position that the Defendant was insured but was in breach of insurance. ICBC defended the lawsuit as a statutory Third Party. At trial the Plaintiff was awarded $1.4 million in damages.
ICBC appealed and in doing so they changed their view of the Defendant’s situation now claiming the Defendant was an uninsured motorist. The Plaintiff objected arguing ICBC could not take this position now as it was beyond the 30 day limit set out in section 20(6) of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act. The Court of Appeal disagreed and found ICBC could advance this position even beyond the 30 day limit. In reaching this result Madam Justice Smith provided the following comments on the purpose of the uninsured vehicle provisions:
 …In my view s. 20(6) speaks to the obligations of claimants before they can compel ICBC to compensate them under this section. Specifically, s. 20(6) requires a claimant to notify ICBC where a defendant has defaulted on his obligations (by failing to appear to the action after being served, consenting to a judgment against him, or failing to take a necessary step in the action that would permit a claimant to take default proceedings) before it can demand compensation from ICBC under this provision. The purpose of the section is to give ICBC 30 days following notice of the defendant’s default in which to intervene in order to rectify the defendant’s failure or action, and thereby protect its interests. If ICBC fails to intervene within that period, the claimant may then enforce payment under this section.
 As I read the provisions, whether or not ICBC intervenes in an action pursuant to s. 20, it has 30 days from notice of a defendant’s default before it can be compelled to compensate a plaintiff on a judgment. Section 20(6) does not limit ICBC to 30 days in which to intervene in an action. The 30-day period refers to the period of time after notice of a defendant’s default in which ICBC can intervene, if it so chooses, before it can be compelled to make payment to the plaintiff. Nowhere does the Act specify when ICBC can or must intervene. In short, these provisions address the issue of when a plaintiff can compel payment from ICBC upon the default of a defendant. The policy behind them is to give ICBC time to intervene in the action before it may be compelled to compensate a plaintiff under this provision…
 In the result, I am of the view that ss. 20(6) and (7) of the Act do not preclude ICBC from appearing to an action under those provisions after it has previously intervened in the action at trial under s. 21 of the Act. Accordingly, I would dismiss the application.