Criminal Conviction Can Help Plaintiff Prove Civil Liability

While a finding of guilt in a criminal proceeding doesn’t guarantee a win for the plaintiff’s counsel in a civil case, it does make things easier as the burden of proof has already been met, Toronto personal injury lawyer Darryl Singer tells Recovery magazine.

“If you’re already convicted it’s unlikely that you’d be able to successfully argue that you weren’t liable and your lawyer’s strategy at that point in the civil case would be to shift to limiting the amount by saying, ‘Yes, he committed an assault and we admit the liability but we don’t think the damages are as high as the plaintiff says,’” explains Singer, principal of Singer Barristers Professional Corporation.

Singer, who typically acts for plaintiffs who are bringing a suit against a convicted drunk driver or for a person who has been assaulted and the perpetrator has been convicted, explains that a conviction under the Criminal Code doesn’t automatically mean that he will win civilly.

He adds, however, that, “it certainly helps me get over the liability hurdle.

“The key is because the test to convict in criminal court is higher than the test to prove liability in the civil court.”

In a criminal matter, he says, the court has to be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the person has committed an offence. In civil court, it only has to be satisfied that on the balance of probabilities the defendant is responsible.

Singer says in the article that it doesn’t bother him if someone he’s suing in civil court is found not guilty at a criminal trial — the mere fact there is a charge is helpful.

“Obviously if there’s a conviction then proving liability is much easier in a civil case because I’ve already got a precedent.”

There are a number of reasons why a person may escape conviction on a criminal charge, he explains, including the Crown deciding to drop the charge if they feel the case is not worth pursuing, or allowing an accused who is a first-time offender to enter into a peace bond.

If a defendant is found not guilty in criminal court, this means the defendant’s lawyer can argue in civil court that the person is not responsible for an act, says Singer, “however it doesn’t mean that we’re down and out on the liability.”

Read this Article on Advocate Daily

Adverse Cost Protection Helps Plaintiffs Move Case Forward

Given that an adverse cost award for a two-week long personal injury trial could be as high as $100,000, it is hard to argue against purchasing a cost protection product for clients, Toronto personal injury lawyer Darryl Singer tells Recovery magazine.

Adverse cost protection products — which cover the risk that a trial might result in an adverse cost award — is a concept imported from Britain, which is now being marketed to personal injury plaintiffs and lawyers in Canada, the article explains.

Recovery notes that personal injury lawyers who have incorporated these products into their practices say mitigating the risk of an adverse cost order helps clients feel comfortable rejecting an unsatisfactory settlement offer.

“We have insurance for everything else,” Singer, principal of Singer Barristers Professional Corporation, explains. “This is just a form of insurance, and it’s relatively inexpensive if you buy it early enough in the process.”

“It allows people to say, ‘I think I have a meritorious case; my lawyer thinks I have a meritorious case. Let’s go to trial,’” he adds.

Singer has purchased BridgePoint protection to cover all his files and eliminate the risk of having clients frightened into settling suits or walking away from their cases, he says in the article. He bills clients for the premium as part of his disbursements.

Read This Article on Advocate Daily

Local Lawyers, Paralegals Valuable to Sole Practitioner Network

Networking is an essential component of starting a law firm, and can include establishing key relationships with other local legal professionals, Toronto personal injury lawyer Darryl Singer tells Lawyers Weekly.

In 2010, Singer, principal of Singer Barristers Professional Corporation, started his personal injury practice with just one assistant. In part, he credits his firm’s growth to strong relationships with paralegals.

“As a plaintiff’s lawyer I was doing tort cases, and in the first two or three years I had an association with a paralegal firm that kept the accident benefit work and sent me the tort work,” he says in the article.

“Their scope of practice is limited, so if they hit the ceiling and can’t do something they call me.”

Singer also says that he turned former personal injury competitors into referral sources.

“I’ve developed a network of a dozen of these firms…that won’t take a case if the claim isn’t worth ‘X’ dollars,” he explains, adding that some firms focus on higher-end tiers within their niche.

Now, Singer’s firm includes an associate lawyer, five paralegals and law clerks.

When it comes to hiring, Singer says his associate lawyer joined as an articling student and remained with the firm after she was called to the bar.

“I don’t use a recruiter,” he says. “It’s almost always connections through people I know.”

Source

Speaker's Corner: Ruling a reminder about usefulness of Apology Act

A recent decision by Superior Court Master Donald Short raises an interesting advocacy opportunity based upon a little-known and fairly recent piece of Ontario legislation, the Apology Act.The aim of the act was to allow a potential defendant to express remorse or regret without fear of such comments precluding a defence on the merits and with no impact on a determination of liability. The legislature thought it might encourage emotional bridge building between aggrieved parties that could have the positive effect of either preventing or circumscribing litigation. the master reviewed the principles enunciated in the Apology Act. In Simaei, the plaintiff wished to plead in her statement of claim that her former employer’s apology arising from the termination of her employment was an admission of fault or wrongdoing. As such, the plaintiff wished to use the apology as a quiver in the arrow of her case. The defendant’s lawyers argued the court should strike that part of the statement of claim as being prejudicial to her in addition to being vexatious and an abuse of process. None of the allegations have been proven in court.Short agreed, citing the provisions ot andate that a party cannot use an apology made in good faith (unless made in the context of an on-the-record discussion as part of the litigation) against the other side in the context of the litigation. The master went even further and suggested the court must by necessity strike the portion of the pleading referring to the apology since a party, under the Rules of Civil Procedure, “cannot plead facts that go nowhere.In light of the wording of the Apology Act, pleading the apology goes nowhere because the provisions state that a party cannot use the apology in the litigation as an admission of liability. Further, the trier of fact cannot consider it in any determination of fault. Thus, even pleading the fact that there was an apology by the defendant offends the principles of pleading and potentially prejudices the defendant at the trial. Additionally, if the apology remains a part of the pleading, it becomes a live issue on discovery.While the case on its face appears to provide some practical advice on the principles of pleading, it is the discussion of this relatively unknown statute that is the real lesson for lawyers to draw from the decision. Specifically, the act essentially allows a client in any potential civil case where a putative plaintiff feels aggrieved or possesses a level of moral superiority to strategically issue an apology in an attempt to diffuse the situation. The master, in obiter, underscored the virtue of a strategic apology when he noted: “My personal involvement in mediation, arbitration has provided me with examples of the value of an apology in reaching a mutually acceptable out-of-court resolution.”I concur with Short. My own experiences over 22 years of litigation are that a properly timed and genuine expression of remorse can avert a lawsuit or mitigate the eventual cost to the defendant of settling the lawsuit. As lawyers, we think of the facts of a potential case in emotionally detached and almost clinical terms. But to the clients sitting in front of us, if we listen closely, mixed with their explanations of how they suffered economic losses by the proposed defendant will be expressions of moral indignation about how someone could do something so bad to them. Settling or avoiding lawsuits involves understanding more than just the law. It involves trying to get inside the head of the opposing party to empathize with its perspective. Plaintiffs often just want someone to hear and understand them. As counsel for a potential defendant or for you if you are dealing with an unsatisfied client, Short reminds us that the Apology Act gives us a very useful tool. Used effectively and, most importantly, with authenticity and compassion, an apology may save thousands of dollars. It did not have that effect for the defendant in Simaei, but the plaintiff will not be able to use an ostensibly heartfelt expression of regret against her in the civil action.

Make Sure to Paper Your 407 ETR Settlement

Recently, 407ETR has launched a full frontal assault against thousands of former users whose accounts are anywhere from 4 to 12 years old. Almost all of these individuals have been in plate denial, unable to renew their licence plate sticker or obtain new plates, for more than 2 years. Some of these individuals believed that those old accounts were paid. Others, knowing that their long ago invoices were relatively small numbers in the hundreds or low thousands, and wanting to pay if only they could determine which charges were properly attributable to them, had attempted for years to sort out billing discrepancies before paying the invoice. Yet after more than 10 years in many cases, 407 has been unwilling or unable to answer their queries as to why they were charged for trips they didn’t take; for trips which occurred months or years after they moved out of the province; trips after they returned the transponder or gave back the plates under which the non-transponder account was registered. Imagine their shock when they opened the most recent collection notices and saw that they now owed anywhere from 100% to 1000% more than the original unproven amount of the debt.

These former customers are now receiving collection notices from a law firm representing the 407. This law firm is well aware that court proceedings cannot be commenced against these alleged toll debtors, as the time limit for issuing a court action has expired. These firms, on behalf of 407, are simply going to keep the file in a perpetual state of “collections”. This means that the previously invoked plate denial can remain in force, and that 407 can pursue aggressive collection actions, including repeated telephone calls, letters, credit bureau reporting, and the usual aggressive, annoying, and questionable techniques employed by the collection industry.

Yet debtors who call these firms and demand an accounting of the charges so they can reconcile what they are being expected to pay are met with silence. This is not the fault of the law firm acting for 407. It only acts for a client who has failed to provide the firm with the necessary background on each file, with the firm receiving only minimal information and a current debt total.

Most people cannot afford a lawyer to go to court and fight the 407 so they are reluctantly entering into settlements in order to resolve the matter and get the plate denial removed from the MTO database. I am aware of individuals who have successfully negotiated a settlement with 407 for as little as 25% of the debt.

If you find yourself in this situation and choose to settle with the 407 or its lawyer or collection agency, don’t assume that because you send them a cheque that the matter is done. In theory it should be. But the toll highway operator has shown repeatedly over the years that it cannot be relied upon for proper record keeping. Further, it seems every couple of years it engages new collection agencies and/or law firms to handle the old debt collection.

So, if faced with a demand for payment and you are prepared to make a deal, by all means do so. While there is much to be gained from fighting a legal battle on the basis of principal, standing up to the bully, public interest, etc., it may be cost prohibitive to do so. As such, settlement may make, depending on the amount at stake, eminent good sense. But be advised that you should only provide the settlement funds if the collection agency/law firm/407 agrees to provide you with the following:

1. A one page legal document called a Satisfaction Piece. This document is your ongoing proof that the debt is deemed settled in full, regardless of how much you actually paid.

2. Confirmation that the plate denial will be removed

3. A copy of 407’s direction to the Ministry of Transportation removing you from plate denial.

4. Confirmation that no negative information has been put on your credit bureau.

5. In the event you are already aware of a negative credit report, then a letter from 407 to Equifax and TransUnion confirming that the negative credit report was place “in error” and should be deleted.

Next time, I will reveal a simple $500 solution to get the 407 off your back.

Darryl Singer is a lawyer with 22 years litigation experience and a particular interest in taking on the 407. He practises as senior counsel with SINGER Barristers Professional Corporation in Markham. www.darrylsinger.com

Law Practice Program a Valuable Resource for Students

As debate continues around the benefits of Ryerson University’s Law Practice Program, Toronto personal injury lawyer Darryl Singer — who worked as a mentor and assessor for the recently completed inaugural session — tells Law Times the quality legal skills gained by participants cannot be overlooked in discussions around the program’s merit.

The program, introduced by the Law Society of Upper Canada in the fall, was designed to address the growing shortage of articling positions in Ontario and offers law students a quicker path to qualification through four months of skills training and a four-month articling requirement.

Referencing his first-hand experience with the program, Singer says it has been a resounding success.

“As a lawyer old enough to remember my articling period preceding a mandatory four-month bar admission course covering eight distinct subjects and who articled at a time when true mentoring still existed, I am not alone in witnessing a decline in the educational, practical, and professional standards of many newly called lawyers,” he writes in Law Times.

“This is not to suggest the sky is falling, but that the Law Society of Upper Canada used to have more stringent quality control over new calls.”

The current situation, he writes, is a “failing on the part of the law society in disbanding the old bar admission course,” and also a “failing of a legal industry driven by billable hours and greater economic pressures than ever before with the result that it is more likely to view an articling student as a profit centre rather than as a mentor’s contribution to the future of our profession.”

Singer says the student participants worked through a series of real-life experiences like client intake interviews and negotiation; argued in actual courtrooms; and dealt with share-purchase agreements, among other things.

“The students carried numerous files in different areas of law simultaneously. Built into the program were very real time constraints and law firm demands,” writes Singer. “With all of the students in the same program, it was easy to assess them comparatively, unlike with articling. It was a rewarding experience to see students in September who were shy and unsure with varied legal and life educational backgrounds develop by December into cohesive teams with similar experiences and feeling confident and certain.”

As for those concerned about graduates having to pay back student loans and the lack of paid student-at-law positions, the reality is what it is, writes Singer.

“Further, high student debt load combined with a dearth of well-paying jobs is certainly not unique to law students,” he says. “The Law Practice Program’s existence does nothing to exacerbate the situation.”

Singer says the program is so valuable that one could even advocate it should become mandatory in the manner of the old bar admission course.

“We could then reduce articling to the four-month work placement currently tacked onto the end of the Law Practice Program,” he writes. “If we want to maintain self-governance and public confidence in our profession, we need to ensure more than just a passing standard of uniform skills training. In that regard, the Law Practice Program is a positive step in that direction.”

To read the full article on Advocate Daily just follow this link.

Speaker's Corner: In support of the Law Practice Program

In the Feb. 2 issue of Law Times in response to critics of Ryerson University’s Law Practice Program, editor Glenn Kauth suggested giving it more time before rushing to judgment.

He referred to concerns about unpaid internships; the potential to reduce paid articling positions; the high proportion of racialized students more likely to turn to the Law Practice Program; and the issue of student loans. However, both Kauth’s editorial and public pronouncements by those for and against the program fail to mention the most significant element: the quality legal skills training gained by the participants.

Having had the distinct pleasure of being both a firm mentor and an assessor for the recently completed inaugural session of the Law Practice Program, I had a first-hand opportunity to assess it. When one considers that this was a pilot project run independently through Ryerson in the most capable hands of Chris Bentley and Gina Alexandris, anyone involved with the program can conclude nothing other than its success.

As a lawyer old enough to remember my articling period preceding a mandatory four-month bar admission course covering eight distinct subjects and who articled at a time when true mentoring still existed, I am not alone in witnessing a decline in the educational, practical, and professional standards of many newly called lawyers. This is not to suggest the sky is falling but that the Law Society of Upper Canada used to have more stringent quality control over new calls.

This current situation is a failing on the part of the law society in disbanding the old bar admission course. It is also the failing of a legal industry driven by billable hours and greater economic pressures than ever before with the result that it is more likely to view an articling student as a profit centre rather than as a mentor’s contribution to the future of our profession.

To those unfamiliar with the Law Practice Program, it grouped students into virtual firms with each assigned a senior lawyer to act as a mentor who played the role of senior partner. The students worked through a series of real-life experiences ranging from client intake interviews, setting up files, corresponding with opposing counsel, client management, negotiation, preparation of pleadings, and drafting motions. The practical skills training in litigation culminated with cases argued in an actual courtroom at 361 University Ave. The litigation files covered several distinct practice areas. They included family and criminal law, the two areas in our current system that are arguably most in need of fresh, prepared, and competent counsel in order to ensure access to justice.

In addition, there was a solicitor component that dealt with share-purchase agreements and real estate closings along with the attendant file work. This component concluded with the students completing a closing.

The students carried numerous files in different areas of law simultaneously. Built into the program were very real time constraints and law firm demands. With all of the students in the same program, it was easy to assess them comparatively, unlike with articling. It was a rewarding experience to see students in September who were shy and unsure with varied legal and life educational backgrounds develop by December into cohesive teams with similar experiences and feeling confident and certain.

As for those concerned about graduates having to pay back student loans and the lack of paid student-at-law positions, the reality is what it is. Further, high student debt load combined with a dearth of well-paying jobs is certainly not unique to law students. The Law Practice Program’s existence does nothing to exacerbate the situation. In fact, it provides an opportunity for those students who do not obtain articling positions to still meet their intended year of call precisely so they can start to practise and attempt to earn a living. It gives those students a practical experience equal to or better than many well-paid articling positions. Scrapping the program is not the answer, nor is forcing employers to pay a minimum wage over and above the current provincial employment law. This would simply result in many smaller firms and sole practitioners that would otherwise happily participate declining to do so simply because they cannot bear the financial burden.

Moreover, graduation from law school does not and should not entitle one to a particular level of income or even a job. The important aspect is that those who graduate law school should have an equal opportunity to access practical skills training culminating in a call to the bar within a year of their law school graduation. The introduction of the Law Practice Program only enhances this laudable goal.

One could go a step further and advocate that the Law Practice Program should become mandatory in the manner of the old bar admission course. We could then reduce articling to the four-month work placement currently tacked onto the end of the Law Practice Program. If we want to maintain self-governance and public confidence in our profession, we need to ensure more than just a passing standard of uniform skills training. In that regard, the Law Practice Program is a positive step in that direction.

 

As published in Law Times News

Punishing Insurers with Punitive Damages

A Saskatchewan court recently ordered $3 million in punitive damages against Zurich Insurance and also awarded $1.5M in punitives against another insurer, AIG, in same case. The court expressly referred to the Witten v Pilot case in which the Supreme Court of Canada ordered the insurer to pay $1M in punitive damages for deliberately trying to avoid payment on a policy of insurance by alleging fraud against the insured when there was no evidence or reasonable basis for such an allegation.

In the current Saskatchewan case, Branco v American Home Assurance Company, 2013 SKQB 98 (CanLII), the two multinational insurance behemoths were found to have deliberately either delayed or avoided paying benefits to which the insured was entitled through a pattern of delay, deception, unreasonable prerequisites, unreasonable technical interpretations of the contracts of insurance, and a complete lack of good faith in dealing with the terms of insurance policies for disability payments to a worker injured in his welding job in a gold mine.

The court also found as a fact that the insurers had used the delay in payments, which caused deleterious financial and psychological consequences to the employee, to try to coerce him into accepting a low ball settlement offer.

The plaintiff’s personal injury Bar in Ontario needs to be more aggressive in using these precedents to advance claims for punitive damages against Accident Benefit insurers for what now appears to be a routine matter of doing business in soft tissue or WAD cases. The insurers now routinely determine based on one time independent assessments, and often even only with paper review assessments, that the insured falls within the MIG despite reasonable evidence proffered by the applicant’s treatment providers that he or she has soft tissue injuries which fall within the exceptions to the MIG, as set out in the SABs. The first FSCO decision on point, while not determining a special award against the insurer, made it clear that this sort of behaviour was highly inappropriate, prejudicial to claimants, and not in keeping with the aims of the SABs. The Commission, in Scarlett and Belair, found in favour of the applicant and awarded costs against the insurer. Sadly, that case was overturned on appeal to the FSCO Director and will now be pronounced upon by the Divisional Court sometime this year or next. It may be that it is necessary in these types of cases to routinely indicate the seeking of a special award on the Application for Arbitration or Statement of Claim for punitive damages in the based on the insurers conduct.

Unless the plaintiff’s Bar routinely begins to seek punitive damages and special awards against insurers, there will be no incentive on insurers to operate in accordance with either the intentions of the SABs or the public philosophies of their own companies. It will be cheaper for them to continue to use their clout to deny payment of benefits and then force unconscionable settlements when the claimants reach a desperation or frustration point.

Rule 48.15(1) Should Not Apply to Personal Cases

When the major overhaul to the Rules of Civil Procedure was introduced in 2010, it seemed a step in the right direction. The emphasis was on making the litigation process more efficient, less time consuming, less costly for litigants, not to mention less taxing on an already overburdened judiciary and court system. The codification of cost proportionality, time limits on discoveries, increases in the ceilings in both Small Claims Court and under the Simplified Procedure, and more discretion to judges hearing summary judgment motions are all steps in the right direction, as are the amendments regarding status hearings under Rule 48.14. However, one significant change designed to speed the process along, Rule 48.15(1), may well work in some litigation matters, but in the majority of personal injury actions, it actually has the opposite effect. In personal injury cases, Rule 48.15(1) has actually resulted in an increase in time and cost to counsel and clients. Most significantly, it may have resulted in what can only be estimated to be thousands of unnecessary motions every year, straining our already limited judicial resources. In fact, the overriding principles of underlying the new Rule 48.15(1), as discussed by Master Dash in Vaccaro v Unifund, are that of prejudice to the defendant; the principle of finality; and public confidence in the administration of justice. The Master goes on to say that the court must “send the right message” and “provide appropriate incentives for those involved in the civil justice system.

Rule 48.15 states:

ACTION ABANDONED

Dismissal

48.15 (1) The registrar shall make an order dismissing an action as abandoned if the following conditions are satisfied, unless the court orders otherwise:

1. More than 180 days have passed since the date the originating process was issued.

2. No statement of defence has been filed.

3. The action has not been disposed of by final order or judgment.

4. The action has not been set down for trial.

5. The registrar has given 45 days notice in Form 48E that the action will be dismissed as abandoned.

The problem in the vast majority of personal injury actions is that 6 months after the issuance of the claim, very little may have happened. Let me give the reader a typical scenario in a typical high volume personal injury practice, and one which applies to the largest proportion of MVA claims. Once retained, plaintiff’s counsel will issue a Notice of Intention to Sue to the defendant’s insurer and begin the process of collecting the numerous documentary productions required to advance the plaintiff’s case. Obtaining an OHIP summary can take 3 to 6 months, doctor and hospital records often 2 to 3 months, employment records, income tax returns, school records all take weeks or months to obtain. In most cases neither plaintiff’s counsel nor the adjuster (the defendant for all intents and purposes being an insurer) will be in a position to assess the case for very near to 6 months at the earliest. Consider that some insurers take several months until an adjuster is even assigned and reviews the file. It is obvious that in most cases the plaintiff will be running up against this 6 month administrative dismissal unless immediately after the adjuster is on board the insurer is forced by the plaintiff to appoint counsel. And there is the rub.

Approximately 50% of these types of personal injury files settle at the adjuster level. It benefits the operation of an efficient personal injury practice, the client, and the insurer to, wherever possible, fairly resolve the file without the need for the appointment of defence counsel and continued litigation. Most significantly it benefits the court system. Half of the thousands of MVA claims need not take up precious judicial and administrative time of the system. Yet the Rules require that the plaintiff either force the insurer to appoint counsel, which many of them are reluctant to do. These adjusters will happily provide their consent for a motion to extend the time for dismissal or to reinstate after dismissal if it should become necessary. I have tracked my own files over 2012 and 2013 in an attempt to conduct an ad hoc empirical study.  Approximately 80% of the matters where a Notice of Pending Dismissal is received and where I do not force the insurer to file a defence end up being resolved without the need for a defence to be filed, and thus no motion is necessary. My practice is by no means atypical. Thus, I am bringing only 1 motion on average for every 4 or 5 notices I receive, and thus only 20% as many motions. Extrapolate this across the personal injury Bar and we are saving thousands of motions a year.

Unfortunately there has been, as a result of some decisions of the Masters Court in Toronto, an emphasis put on bringing these motions in a timely fashion, as in during the 45 day notice period, or as soon as possible after dismissal. The fear is that I can no longer essentially ignore the notice and dismissal, and then simply bring the one out of five motions that I will eventually have to bring when it becomes apparent that the negotiations have broken down and there is no prospect of settlement. And almost all of those motions will be on consent or unopposed. There is no prejudice to the defendant as their representative has agreed it was in their, and my client’s, best interests, to hold off on the filing of a defence. The insurer is not relying on any principle of finality. And as to the evidence being preserved, much of it is not even in our possession yet so it is certainly not stale or missing. Moreover, we are talking 6 to 12 months from the commencement of the claim. This article is not meant to address the 2 year dismissl notices, just the 6 month timeline. So any delay can hardly be seen as egregious. Both plaintiff and defendant are actively working to move the file forward. On those bases alone, many of the key factors Master Dash refers to simply would not bear scrutiny in the instances I describe. Obviously those larger claims where it is apparent that settlement will not be possible for years are not going to fall into the category where motions are necessary as a defence will be demanded by plaintiff’s counsel almost immediately.

My conversations with other plaintiff’s counsel reveal similar concerns by those firms. My firm handles approximately 250 to 300 cases at any one time and is a relatively small practice by some standards. The majority of files are could fairly be categorized as falling into the category referred to as needing exclusion from Rule 48.15. I am at a loss to see how bringing up to 5 times as many motions as necessary benefits the efficiency of the system and saves on court resources, both administrative and judicial.

There is a simple solution here. Either, invoke a sub-rule that applies to personal injury actions, say 12 or 18 months, or implement a system whereby plaintiff’s counsel and the insurer can extend the time automatically without a motion simply by filing a requisition confirming their agreement to extend the time. I had heard rumours that the latter process would be implemented, but so far they appear to be just rumours.

Given that Toronto Masters motions are now booking 3 months down the road, ex parte motions court is jammed every day it sits, and a typical motions list is often more than can be handled on a particular day, this change would benefit not only the personal injury Bar but the entire litigation bar as well as the court system. It would save countless amounts of money in terms of time and judicial resources, benefit all parties to the litigation by keeping costs down and encouraging pre-discovery resolution where appropriate, all of which ties in nicely with the new focus on cost proportionality.