Court Compels Registrar to Deny Licence Plates for 407 ETR Debts
TORONTO, November 7, 2005
407 ETR today announced that the Ontario Divisional Court has issued a unanimous decision ordering the Ontario Registrar of Motor Vehicles to comply with his statutory obligation to deny vehicle permits to individuals who refuse to pay their 407 ETR tolls.
In their ruling, the Honourable Mr. Justice James D. Carnwath, Madam Justice Joan L. Lax and Madam Justice Katherine E. Swinton ruled that “the Registrar had no discretion to refuse plate denial” and therefore ordered the Registrar to begin denying plates.
“The panel has unanimously ruled in our favour that the Registrar must deny plates of people who refuse to pay,” said Enrique Diaz-Rato, 407 ETR President and Chief Executive Officer. “We have tried to resolve this issue amicably for over two years, so it is unfortunate that we had to go to Court to finally get the Registrar to uphold the law.”
As a result of today’s decision, the Registrar will deny the plates of over 4,000 individuals who used the highway but, to date, have refused to pay. 407 ETR had started to send these plates for denial in August 2003, but the Registrar had refused to act. Now that the Court has determined the Registrar’s duties with respect to these accounts, 407 ETR expects the Registrar to deny all plate denial notices sent by the Company.
“The vast majority of our customers pay their bills,” said Díaz-Rato. “However, there is a small group who use the highway and refuse to pay – that’s unfair to paying customers and to the company.”
Plate denial is used for 407 ETR because it is an all-electronic, barrier-free highway with no traditional toll booths. As a result, vehicles are not prevented from using the highway – even if a customer’s account is significantly overdue. Unlike any other business, however, the service provided by 407 ETR cannot be discontinued or cancelled for those who refuse to pay.
Plate denial was in place while the highway was owned and operated by the Ontario Government and plate denial was a key part of the 1998 legislation allowing the sale of the highway. Plate denial is also available to municipalities when people refuse to pay their parking fines.
407 ETR complies with an extensive customer appeal process and external, independent auditing of the company’s plate denial procedures, both of which are required by law. To date, however, the Registrar had failed to perform his legal duty to begin denying plates, leaving the company with no alternative but to commence the judicial review of his actions.
407 International Inc. is the sole shareholder of 407 ETR, the operator and manager of Highway 407, which extends 108 kilometres east-west, just north of Toronto. 407 International Inc. is owned by a consortium comprised of Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte, Macquarie Infrastructure Group and SNC-Lavalin.
For more information, contact:
Dale A. Albers
Manager, Public Relations