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Insureds Can Rarely Claim New Legislation Can Retroactively Apply

Lin v Weng, 2022 ONCA 367.

Reading Time: 3 minutes (approx.)

By: Weston McArthur (Articling Student)

At paragraph 1, Justice Feldman summarized the facts of this case: “The appellant’s tenants burned down his property on the last day of their tenancy. They caused a fire and explosion in the basement by using a butane lighter, a stove, and propane gas to extract marijuana resin. The appellant had asked the tenants to leave on account of the non-payment of rent, expected them to move out that day, and did not know they were doing anything in the basement.”

The Appellant landlord had home insurance with Aviva and made a claim under this policy following the fire and explosion. Aviva denied the claim on the grounds of two exclusions contained within the policy. At paragraph 3, Justice Feldman explained that “[a]fter the fire and while the appellant’s claim was outstanding, the legislature amended the Insurance Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. I.8, by adding a provision that limits the application of criminal and intentional activity exclusion clauses to the claim of a person who caused the loss or who knew about or consented to the loss.”

The Appellant wanted to rely on the new provision; however, the amendment came into effect after the Appellant submitted his claim. Thus, the Ontario Court of Appeal had to decide if the Appellant could rely on the new provision in advancing their claim under their policy. Ultimately, Justice Feldman held for the Court that they could not.

While legislation can be amended so that it applies to events that happened in the past, the legislature will use clear and express language to convey that. In this case, there was no such language. In addition, Justice Feldman attempted to investigate the meaning of the word “claim” to see if he could find anything that would indicate that new legislation applies retroactively when insureds bring their claims forward to their insurers, but found nothing. In the end, Aviva did not have to pay for the Appellant’s losses.

Link: https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onca/doc/2022/2022onca367/2022onca367.html?autocompleteStr=2022%20onca%20367&autocompletePos=1

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