Currently, Nova Scotia does not have standardized limitation
periods in its Limitation of Actions Act. The
limitation period for an action for wrongful or constructive
dismissal (contract) in Nova Scotia is set out
in section 2(1)(e) of the Act and provides a six year
2(1) The actions mentioned in this Section shall be commenced
within and not after the times respectively mentioned in such
Section, that is to say:
(e) all actions grounded upon any lending, or contract,
expressed or implied, without specialty, or upon any award where
the submission is not be specialty, or for money levied by
execution, all actions for direct injuries to real or personal
property, actions for the taking away or conversion of property,
goods and chattels, actions for libel, malicious prosecution and
arrest, seduction and criminal conversation and actions for all
other causes which would formerly have been brought in a the form
of action called trespass on the case, except as herein
excepted, within six years after the case of any
such action arose;
However, an action could survive beyond six years if a court
exercises its discretion under section 2(4) by giving consideration
to the (a) length and reasons for the delay; (b) information
provided by the defendant to the plaintiff respecting time limits;
(c) the extent to which the parties evidence would or is less
cogent; (d) the conduct of the defendant after the cause of action
arose that impeded the plaintiff's reasonable requests to
inspect information to ascertain relevant facts; (e) the duration
of any disability of the plaintiff; (f) the plaintiff's
actions; and, (g) the steps taken by the plaintiff to obtain expert
The uncertainty and unpredictability of this ability to extend
the limitation period this is obvious.
On October 29, 2014, the Nova Scotia government introduced
Bill 64 which is scheduled for its last Law Amendment Committee
Meeting tonight, November 5. If Bill 64 becomes law, employers will
want to be mindful of what it means for them. Three things come to
Would there be a new limitation period for civil claims
against employers if Bill 64 becomes law?
Yes there would be. There would be one
uniform limitation period – two years' from the
"date of discovery" and regardless of when a claim is
discovered, Bill 64 will prevent a claim after 15 years from the
day of the act or omission that caused it.
Would there be any exceptions?
Yes, there will be. The limitation periods do not run
while a claimant is a minor or while a claimant is incapable of
bringing a claim due to a physical, mental or psychological
condition. In such case, the limitation period is suspended.
What about our record retention system if the Bill passes?
You will want to consider reviewing your retention
policy. The benchmark for record retention in Nova Scotia is
generally guided by the limitations set out in statutes that
require that specific records be retained (i.e., Labour
Standards Code, Workers' Compensation Act, etc.)
and those statutory limitations do not change as a result of Bill
64. However, Bill 64 expands the time frame that is generally
considered "safe" for overall record retention overall.
If Bill 65 passes, we expect that employers will want to retain
records that may be required to defend a wrongful or constructive
dismissal claim for 15 years.
We will keep you up to date as this Bill moves along the
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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