• Highlights of the New Limitation Act
  • July 15, 2013 | Author: Daniel W. Barber
  • Law Firm: Singleton Urquhart LLP - Vancouver Office
  • British Columbia’s much changed Limitation Act (see Letter of the Law, Fall 2012) came into force on June 1. The new Act significantly reduces limitation periods in an effort to streamline the litigation process.

    Most notably, the new Act replaces the current two-, six-, and ten-year limitation periods for most civil claims with a basic two-year limitation period which begins to run from the time a claimant “discovers” a claim. A claim is considered to be discovered when a claimant knows or ought to know that the injury, loss or damage he or she has suffered resulted from a defendant's actions and that a court proceeding would be an appropriate remedy.

    The new Act also revises the ultimate limitation period during which a claim must be brought. The ultimate limitation period is fifteen years, running from the date the original act or omission occurs; during this time, claimants must bring a claim, regardless of whether or not they have discovered it. After the expiry of the ultimate limitation period, barring certain exceptions, a claimant cannot seek any remedy arising from the original act or omission, even if the claimant has not discovered the claim or the damage has not yet occurred.

    The new law applies only to acts or omissions that occur and are discovered after June 1, 2013. Ongoing court proceedings and claims discovered before this date are not subject to the new Act. However, if the act or omission occurred before the new Act came into force but is not discovered until after June 1, 2013, any claim arising from it will be governed by the new Act.

    The Limitation Act also changes the limitation period for claims for contribution or indemnity. Under the new Act, the limitation period for a defendant making a claim for contribution or indemnity starts to run when the defendant is served with the pleadings of the original claim or knew or ought to have known that they may make a claim for contribution or indemnity.

    As the new Act does not expressly provide for parties to contract out of the Act, it remains uncertain whether parties may vary the applicable limitation provisions by agreement.

    Overall, the Limitation Act simplifies a claimant's often complicated process of calculating limitation periods and provides a greater degree of certainty of the duration a potential defendant may face liability for its actions.