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Prediction: Canada won't see U.S.-style excesses



So Kathy Ricketts, vice president at Swiss Re, told insurance execs at a Toronto seminar:

She noted the Supreme Court of Canada has capped general damage awards at roughly Cdn$100,000, indexed to inflation. [Today, the value would be roughly $320,000.]

Ricketts added that Canadian court awards, while they are getting higher, would never approach those in the U.S. for the following reasons:

* Canadians, unlike U.S. citizens, have universal health care and are thus less likely to be ruined by medical claims (and are therefore less likely to have to sue to recover their medical costs);

* Canadian judges are appointed, not elected, and therefore Canadian courts are somewhat insulated from pressure to make decisions that will appeal to the electorate (i.e. policyholders).

* The outside limit for punitive damages against an insurer in Canada is thus far about Cdn$1 million. To approach this kind of award, the defendant�s conduct would have to be demonstrably �vindictive,� �reprehensible,� and �malicious.�

* There is more of an emphasis on bench trials in Canada, as opposed to jury trials in the United States.

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Isaac Gorodetski
Project Manager,
Center for Legal Policy at the
Manhattan Institute
igorodetski@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Press Officer,
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.