The Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario will help reduce regulatory burden and make Ontario open for business

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Who decides if medical cannabis is a treatment option for you?

Large law firms working together on blockchain M&A technology

Written By Anita Balakrishnan

Several major Canadian law firms are working together on a pilot project to make a “smart contract” using Ethereum blockchain.

Technology firm OpenLaw announced the project, which includes Bennett Jones LLP, Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP, Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP, Fasken Martineau Dumoulin LLP, Norton Rose Fulbright LLP and Stikeman Elliott LLP.

The six-month pilot with a consultancy called GenesisB focused on automating a merger and acquisition escrow agreement, OpenLaw said in the announcement.

“It’s really efficient when it’s fully realized,” she says. “I’m a big believer in what will be enabled through all kinds of projects like this.”

Bennett Jones partner Simon Grant, one of the lawyers who worked on the project, says the project was a “phase one” trial that used a real escrow agreement and model but not client funds. Since the project, however, Bennett Jones has worked separately with clients on putting smart contract technology into practice, using skills learned in the OpenLaw project, says Grant.

Grant says that by removing the need for an individual to act as an escrow agent, automation can be used not only in mergers and acquisitions but other types of transactions such as financing or even transactions where escrow isn’t currently used because it is too complicated.

“The collaboration . . . was among multiple law firms, but it was also between lawyers and programmers — being in the same room at the same time building this project for the ground up,” says Grant. He says that Toronto is a hub for exciting work on blockchain and other technology.

“What [technology companies] may not have is training on how contracts are understood and treated legally,” says Grant.

Anthony de Fazekas, head of technology and innovation for Norton Rose Fulbright Canada in Toronto, says it was important for companies such as OpenLaw to get the perspective of a variety of law firms, so different lawyers could have input on the legal parameters and standards of turning a traditional document-based contract into a smart contract.

“We are already seeing the trend [toward smart contracts] in client projects. With a smart contract, you’re going to need a law firm to sign off, from risk and liability and contractual standard point of view,” says de Fazekas, who also participated in the project. While a document may become a set of coded processes in a smart contract, a lawyer will still need to know how to audit each process, to validate the different allocations of risk between the parties, he says.

“That’s why these projects are important to lawyers and to law firms,” says de Fazekas.

While many people associate blockchain with crypto-currency, smart contracts don’t have to use so-called tokens and coins, says ter Haar. Existing tools such as DocuSign or Stripe can also be integrated into smart contracts, she says.

Blockchain technology, like other types of software, can be used by a wide variety of lawyers for tasks such as clearing a settlement of securities trades, verifying identities and protecting privilege, underwriting claims for insurance, patient records for health care or administering royalties in media, ter Haar says.

Technology lawyer Addison Cameron-Huff says that as clients demand more efficiency from their lawyers, blockchain will eventually be adopted. The question, he says, is who will win that business.

“Law firms have enormous domain knowledge that’s just waiting to be incorporated into tech products,” says Cameron-Huff. I can see why firms would want to capture that knowledge for their own advantage, rather than give it away to others.  Canadian firms are not trailblazers in tech. Part of the reason for this is the cost of these sorts of initiatives so it makes sense to pool resources to create new platforms that can then be used to expand the pie.”

Cameron-Huff says lawyers on Bay Street may be looking more toward winning on the global market than beating each other.

“The typical approach of firms is to compete with each other, but in the blockchain industry the typical approach is to work together,” he says.

LAW TIMES

Western Financial Group Acquires Ontario Brokerage EGM Insurance Group

Western Financial Group has furthered its strategic expansion in Ontario with its third brokerage acquisition in the province. Effective May 31, 2019, the EGM Insurance Group based in the Ottawa Valley is part of the Western family.

Diligently serving customers since 1942, EGM and its subsidiaries, MC Carroll Insurance Brokers and Johnston & Mackie Ltd., will join Western’s network — one of the largest and strongest in the country.

With this announcement, EGM Insurance Group will bring its four branches, knowledge of the Ontario market and steadfast dedication to customer service and insurance excellence to Western.

“We’re thrilled to welcome EGM CEO Lisa Edmonds and her team,” Kenny Nicholls, Western’s CEO and president, said. “Our two companies are aligned in that we put our customers and people first.”

“This acquisition offers us further abilities to grow our customer broker model in Ontario,” he said.

Edmonds said joining Western is a great opportunity for the EGM Insurance Group and its customers.

“I am excited to know the strength of Western’s people — their experience, resources and stability — will take us to the next level while allowing us to serve our customers in our local community,” she said.

Western Financial Group Inc.

Western, a diversified insurance services company, is focused on creating security and has provided over one million Canadians the right protection for more than 100 years. Headquartered in High River, Alberta, Western provides personal and business insurance services through 183 locations, its affiliates and a variety of connected channels, with an engaged team of more than 1,800 people. Western is a subsidiary of Trimont Financial Ltd., a subsidiary of The Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company.

EGM Insurance Group

As a well-established insurance broker network, the EGM Insurance Group has provided insurance services to customers for over 75 years. The firm, which serves residents and businesses in the Petawawa and Pembroke areas, had its start as a family business. To this day, the values of yesterday are the same — community connections are key. EGM brokers offer a wide selection of personal and business insurance products.

SOURCE Western Financial Group

http://www.westernfinancialgroup.net

Genworth MI Canada Inc. Announces Special Dividend

The Board of Directors of Genworth MI Canada Inc. (the “Company“) (TSX: MIC) today announced that it has declared a special dividend of $0.40 per common share, for an aggregate amount of $34 million. This special dividend is to be paid on June 28, 2019, to shareholders of record at the close of business on June 17, 2019.

“As part of our previously announced plan to redeploy capital in excess of organic growth needs and our continued focus on capital efficiency, we are pleased to have completed this special dividend, and our recent share repurchases under our previously announced normal course issuer bid,” said Stuart Levings, President and CEO.

Genworth MI Canada Inc. designates any and all dividends paid or deemed for Canadian federal, provincial or territorial income tax purposes to be paid as “eligible dividends”, unless indicated otherwise in respect of dividends paid subsequent to this notification, and hereby notifies all recipients of such dividends of this designation.

About Genworth MI Canada Inc. 

Genworth MI Canada Inc. (TSX: MIC) through its subsidiary, Genworth Financial Mortgage Insurance Company Canada (“Genworth Canada“), is the largest private residential mortgage insurer in Canada.  The Company provides mortgage default insurance to Canadian residential mortgage lenders, making homeownership more accessible to first-time homebuyers. Genworth Canada differentiates itself through customer service excellence, innovative processing technology and a robust risk management framework. For more than two decades, Genworth Canada has supported the housing market by providing thought leadership and a focus on the safety and soundness of the mortgage finance system.  As at March 31st, 2019, Genworth Canada had $6.9 billion total assets and $4.1 billion total shareholders’ equity. Find out more at www.genworth.ca.

SOURCE Genworth MI Canada

www.genworth.com

Tornado victims fear rising insurance rates

Sunday’s twister damaged homes, downed trees

Robyn Miller · CBC News

Kim Lussier has had some bad luck with her car lately.

Lussier’s Hyundai sedan has been rear-ended three times in the last year. Then, during Sunday’s tornado in Orléans, a tree fell on it, smashing its rear window.

Now the car sits partly covered by a blue tarp in her driveway, and Lussier is fretting over much her insurance coverage will cost after this latest claim.

I don’t want to be a hostage of the insurance policy.- Kim Lussier, Orléans resident
“It’s hard because you don’t have a choice,” she said Tuesday. “You need insurance, and if you apply elsewhere they want to know your history of claims, so there’s no getting around that…. I don’t want to be a hostage of the insurance policy.”

Some of Lussier’s neighbours on Wincanton Drive have similar concerns about their insurance rates. On Tuesday, fallen branches and other storm debris still lined the quiet residential street off Jeanne D’Arc Boulevard N., near Petrie Island and the Ottawa River.

A large tree on Lussier’s property leaned precariously toward her neighbour’s.

“I’m supposed to retire in a couple of years and I’ve had all of this [bad] luck with extra expenses that impact my savings and my future,” Lussier said.

Waiting ‘all we can do’

Nearby, Mike Mullen was surveying the hole in his roof left by Sunday’s sudden storm. He said he contacted his insurance provider right away.

“We’re just kind of cleaning up and waiting, really. That’s all we can do,” Mullen said.

He was taking a more fatalistic approach to the possibility of rising insurance rates. “It’s an extra cost every month, right? But I don’t know what else we can do. It’s what it is.”

On nearby Lawler Crescent, Debbie Harris said she and her husband are also awaiting quotes regarding their damaged roof.

“I’m not overly concerned at this point, though I am hearing more tornados and things like that [could strike the area], so I would imagine at some point we’re going to see differences,” she said. “Definitely, I would think they’d go up before they’d go down.”

Will rates go up?

Pierre Babinsky, director of communications and public affairs with the Insurance Bureau of Canada, confirmed the storm damage could impact rates, depending on the insurer.

“Generally, premiums will go up once the insurer needs to adjust them to compensate for whatever they have to pay to settle claims,” Babinsky said.

“If it’s a costly year for the insurer and he’s paid more than he’s collected in premiums, then there’s a fair chance that he will raise premiums.”

Babinsky said in 2018, insurers paid nearly $2 billion in settlements related to severe weather across Canada, a historically high amount.

He advises tornado victims to get in touch with their insurance companies as soon as possible and to carefully document everything.

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