In this class action lawsuit filed against the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, ICBC, the plaintiff seeks to certify a class action on behalf of all individuals who have purchased compulsory vehicle insurance from ICBC since its founding in 1973 (Rorison v. Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, 2024 BCSC 834)  This group is referred to as the “Ratepayer Class.”The plaintiff challenges a long-standing arrangement where ICBC reimburses the provincial government for basic medical care costs provided to individuals injured in motor vehicle accidents. These costs are already covered by the publicly funded Medical Services Plan (MSP).

The plaintiff argues that these reimbursements (MSP Payments) have wrongfully increased insurance costs for all compulsory vehicle insurance buyers from ICBC and constitute an unconstitutional tax. In 2022, the Supreme Court dismissed the certification application, finding that the pleadings did not disclose a cause of action as required by the Class Proceedings Act. The Court of Appeal later held that the unconstitutional tax claim raises an arguable cause of action and remitted the matter for further consideration of certification requirements.

Amendment of Legislation by NDP

In an attempt to avoid paying out on this class action David Eby’s NDP government amended legislation to retroactively require ICBC to reimburse the government for health-related services, aiming to block the Ratepayer Class’s claims except the constitutional issue.

Limitation Period Argument

The province argues the class definition is overbroad, citing a 30-year limitation period under the former Limitation Act. The province suggests limiting the class to those who purchased insurance after May 31, 1983, or who were under 19 on May 31, 1980, and bought insurance thereafter. Justice N. Smith declined to narrow the class at this stage, preferring to address limitation issues in the context of all legal issues and evidence.

Certification Requirements Under Section 4(1)

Identifiable Class: The class is deemed identifiable, including both current and former residents of British Columbia.

Common Issues: The proposed common issues include the terms of agreements between ICBC and the province, amounts paid under those agreements, and whether the payments constitute an unconstitutional tax.

Preferable Procedure: A class proceeding is found to be the preferable procedure due to the size of the class and the constitutional nature of the issue.

Representative Plaintiff: Mr. Rorison, the representative plaintiff, is found to meet the requirements of a representative plaintiff.

The lawsuit  for the Ratepayer Class was therefore certified for the class and common issues proposed by the plaintiff, and any narrowing of the class definition will be left to the judge deciding common issues.

Despite a legislative amendment aimed at blocking the claim, the court certified the class action, allowing the constitutional issue to proceed.

the plaintiff’s claim for damages seeks restitution for the additional costs incurred by the Ratepayer Class due to what is argued to be an unconstitutional tax imposed through ICBC’s reimbursement payments to the provincial government. The claim is based on the principle that unconstitutional taxes collected must be returned to the payers.

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