The new BC Limitation Act came into force on June 1,
2013. One of the significant changes was to reduce the basic
limitation period for most claims to two years from the date the
claim was discovered. As a result, claims discovered on or after
June 1, 2013 will become statute-barred in the very immediate
While it is always a good idea to take inventory of potential
claims and the limitation periods that will apply to them, the
two-year anniversary of the new Limitations Act can be a
springboard for an organization to conduct a limitations audit.
Things to keep in mind:
The Limitation Act is a default statute: there are
limitation periods applying to specific types of claims contained
in other provincial and federal statutes.
The question of when a claim is discovered is not always easy
to answer, despite detailed provisions on discoverability in the
Limitation Act. When in doubt, it would be prudent to
assume the limitation period began to run from the date of the act
or omission giving rise to damage.
The ultimate limitation period in the Limitation Act
is 15 years, running from the day on which the act or omission on
which the claim is based took place.
The Limitation Act bars non-judicial remedies too.
Accordingly, your audit should include a review of contracts that
provide for non-judicial remedies, such as set-off, distraint,
seizure of assets, etc., to ensure that those remedies are
not exercised out of time.
The old Limitation Act will still apply to some
claims, as provided for in the transitional provisions of the new
Limitation Act, which are complex.
Conflict of laws principles will inform which
jurisdiction's limitation laws will apply to a given claim. But
some limitation statutes contain provisions ousting conflict of
laws principles and imposing the local limitations law on suits
brought in that jurisdiction's courts. Moreover, limitation
statutes across Canada are not uniform, giving rise to traps for
Existing judgments for the payment of money or the return of
personal property, including arbitration awards, need to be
"refreshed" by suing on them within the express
limitation period set out in the Limitation Act.
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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