On June 1, 2013 the new Limitation Act for British
Columbia will come into force. The current Limitation Act
has not been substantially amended since 1975. The new
Limitation Act significantly simplifies the law on
limitation periods, primarily by moving towards a single two year
basic limitation period for the majority of claims. The new
Limitation Act also standardizes BC's limitation
periods with other provinces such as Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario
and New Brunswick. .
The most significant impact that the new Limitation Act
will have upon landlords and tenants is the change in the
limitation period for claims arising out of a breach of a lease.
Under the current Limitation Act landlords and tenants can
pursue a claim for a breach of a lease or a debt for up to six
years after the date on which the right to do so arose. When the
new Limitation Act comes into effect landlords and tenants
will only have two years from the date on which a landlord or a
tenant discovered that a Lease was breached or a debt has become
due. While the new Limitation Act is much simpler to
understand, it will shorten the period landlords and tenants have
to pursue debts or breaches of a lease. .
The new Limitation Act will not, however, alter claims
relating to personal injury (such as slip and fall accidents) or
property damage claims (such as vandalism). Under the current
Limitation Act claims can be brought for up to two years
from the date on which the right to do so arose. Under the new
Limitation Act such claims fall under the basic two year
limitation period. .
The new Limitation Act also does not change the time
landlords or tenants will have to enforce their judgments. Under
both the current Limitation Act and the new Limitation
Act parties have 10 years to enforce their judgments.
The new Limitation Act also does not affect
environmental claims. Those claims are now, and will continue to
be, dealt with under section 47 of the Environmental Management
Act. In order to ensure that this is clear, on June 1st
section 47 of the Environmental Management Act will be
amended to include a subsection stating that despite the new
Limitation Act a legal proceeding may be brought at any
time for remediation of a contaminated site. .
The new Limitation Act contains transition rules that
decide whether the current Limitation Act or the new
Limitation Act will apply to a claim. These rules can be
complex but as a simplified summary, if the act or omission you are
suing over (for example a tenant's failure to pay rent) occurs
after June 1, 2013 then the new Limitation Act will apply.
If the act or omission happens before June 1, 2013, and you
discovered it before that date, then the old the Limitation
Act applies. Complications can arise when the act or omission
happens before June 1, 2013 but is discovered after that date.
Under that scenario the new Limitation Act will generally
apply. Ultimately, we recommend that you do not sit on claims even
if you think the old Limitation Act will apply because, on
top of the risk that a court will find you are out of time to bring
your claim, cases become harder to win as people's memories
fade and documents are lost or destroyed.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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