Adrian Scovell
President & CEO
Email: adrianscovell@ara.bc.ca
Phone: 604-432-7987

Update Regarding Submission to the Competition Bureau

Dear ARA Member,

You will recall that in 2010, ICBC ceased negotiations with the ARA for the rates it pays its suppliers. ICBC cited recent changes to the Competition Act, which [they claim] prohibit them from engaging in dialogue in rate negotiations with the association acting on behalf of industry. In the absence of negotiating directly with industry ICBC had chosen to unilaterally set rates for industry suppliers without any meaningful consultation or participation from the ARA or any of its members. But you are already well aware of this.

Since putting the legal defense fund together, which a number of our members contributed to, the ARA has worked with our legal counsel to develop our draft submission to the Competition Bureau. With legal fees and application fees, etc, requesting an opinion from the Competition Bureau is expensive and time consuming. At the same time, we continued to advocate with the Attorney General (Minister responsible for ICBC) for intervention on his part to review his own authority which we believe gives him the authority to direct ICBC to discuss compensation with the ARA. We believe that he need only communicate that message and neither ICBC, government or the ARA would be in contravention of the federal Competition Act.

We completed the draft and were ready to make our submission this fall when the Attorney General notified us that he would work with his staff and advisors to identify how he may be able to meet our request, and if necessary, implement regulations that would ensure that ICBC and ARA could in fact discuss compensation. If we could accomplish this, that would make the expense of going to the Competition Bureau unnecessary and the ARA could return most of the funds we collected back to the legal defense fund contributors. The ARA has been communicating with the Attorney General’s office on this matter since he made the announcement and it was our hope to have been able to communicate the outcomes to you by now. Unfortunately, it is taking longer that we expected.  Our legal counsel is certain that it requires only a policy decision from the Minister as his authority to direct ICBC to discuss compensation with the ARA is spelled out well in the Insurance Corporations Act. The Minister’s advisors are less convinced however, saying it requires a legislative change which is more involved.

ARA Chairman (Ron Tremblay) and myself are meeting with Attorney General Eby on January 7 in the New Year and we will be discussing this with him along with a few other issues. If the Minister’s advisors are still insisting on a change in legislation, we will proceed with our submission to the Competition Bureau as originally planned.

I will communicate again after we meet with the Minister in January.

Sincerely,

Ken McCormack
President & CEO