Tuesday, 17 April 2012

New Limitation Act - 2-year Limitation Period for (almost) All Claims

As some may recall, in September, 2010, the BC AG published an extensive whitepaper on reforming the existing Limitation Act. On April 16, the new Limitation Act was introduced in the Legislature as Bill 34 (for first reading).  The introduction was accompanied by an extensive press release and an information page touting the virtues of the reform. The key proposed changes in the new Act, which will entirely replace the existing Act, are described as follows:
  • moving from a variety of basic limitation periods, based on the type of legal action, to a single two-year basic limitation period for all civil claims. Exceptions to this are civil claims that enforce a monetary judgment, exempted claims and actions that have limitation periods set by other statutes;
  • moving from a general 30-year ultimate limitation period to a single 15-year ultimate limitation period;
  • reforms also include changing the commencement model of the ultimate limitation period from an “accrual” model to a model that starts the clock running on the ultimate limitation period based on an “act or omission.”
Notably, s. 30 of the proposed Act, as well as the press release, confirm that the new Act will not be retroactive and will not apply to causes of action that existed before its ultimate enactment:

30(1) "pre-existing claim" means a claim
(a) that is based on an act or omission that took place before the effective date, and
(b) with respect to which no court proceeding has been commenced before the effective date.
(3) Subject to subsection (2), if a pre-existing claim was discovered before the effective date, the former Act applies to the pre-existing claim as if the right to bring an action occurred at the time of the discovery of the pre-existing claim
Update:  further analysis is available from my colleague Raman Johal at Clark Wilson's Insurance Interest newsletter.