New British Columbia Limitation Act

On May 17, 2012 Bill 34, which repeals and replaces the Limitation Act with a new act, received Royal Assent.  In speaking about Bill 34 Justice Minister and Attorney General Shirley Bond stated:

 “Civil actions deal with everything from commercial disputes to personal injury claims. We have taken considerable time and care with these changes because it was important to strike a balance that gives both plaintiffs sufficient time to file a legal claim and defendants certainty about when their liability ends. This new act will make the limitation rules clearer and easier to apply.”

The new Limitation Act is a departure from the former Act which imposed limitation periods of 2, 6 or 10 years depending on the type of the claim (generally tort claims came within the 2 year limitation period).  The former Act also provided generally (with some specific exceptions) that the limitation period began running from the time the cause of action arose and contained a 30 year “ultimate” limitation period.

The highlights of the new Limitation Act include:

  • A basic limitation period of 2 years from the day on which the claim is discovered is established.  This will be applicable for all civil claims with certain exceptions including claims to enforce a monetary judgment (which will be 10 years), exempted claims and actions that have limitation periods set by other statutes (ie under the Insurance Act);
  • A 15 year ultimate limitation period from the date on which the act or omission on which the claim is based took place;
  • The new Act also provides for general discovery rules as well as specific discovery rules for claims based on fraud, contribution and indemnity and other specific causes of action;
  • The general discovery rules provide that a claim is discovered by a person on the first day on which the person knew or reasonably ought to have known all of the following:
  1.  that the injury, loss or damage occurred,
  2.  that the injury, loss or damage was caused or contributed by an act or omission,
  3. that the act or omission was made of the person against whom the claim is or may be made,
  4. that, having regard to the nature of the injury, loss or damage, a court proceeding would be an appropriate means to seek to remedy the injury, loss or damage.
  • The discovery and postponement rules for minors and persons under a disability remain similar to the old Act;
  • The new Act still contains provisions which allow for the possibility for the extension of the ultimate limitation period in certain circumstances (i.e. fraud, acknowledgement of liability, willful concealment or misleading); and,
  • The Act itself will not be retroactive and contains transition clauses to generally ensure that existing legal matters are caught under the former Act.

All that is now needed for Bill 34 to be brought into force is the release of the Regulations and an Order in Council.  We will keep you advised as to the implementation date of the new Act.