April 27, 2007

CVMA calls for elimination of vicarious liability in British Columbia


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Toronto, Ontario – The Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association (CVMA), in coordination with a broad automotive industry coalition, is asking the Solicitor General of British Columbia to eliminate vicarious liability for vehicle lessors and renters. The CVMA says other provinces and jurisdictions have already taken action to eliminate this type of antiquated law, which threatens to drive up the cost of leasing or renting a vehicle for consumers.

B.C.’s law, which dates back to the days when many people were driven by chauffeurs, holds that the owner of the vehicle could be held liable in a crash, not just the hired driver. In current law, it means that when an individual leases or rents a vehicle and the driver gets into a crash, the leasing or rental company could be found liable and sued for damages, despite the fact that the company has no control over the vehicle’s care, control or operation.

The CVMA gives the example of a street racer causing a crash; the driver will be liable if he owns the vehicle, but if it is leased or rented, the finance company that leased the vehicle or the rental company is liable along with the driver. About 40 per cent of vehicles are leased in B.C., and in Canada overall.

In March 2006, the province of Ontario effectively eliminated vicarious liability; the U.S. passed federal legislation in August 2005 to eliminate it nationwide.

The CVMA is an industry association in which member companies work together to achieve shared industry objectives; its members include DaimlerChrysler Canada, Ford Motor Company of Canada, General Motors of Canada and International Truck and Engine Corporation Canada.

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