Monday, 18 March 2013

B.C. Shortens Limitation Periods

          Litigants with claims that may be subject to the law of British Columbia should take note that for many claims the limitation period there  will be significantly shortened when Bill 34, the  new Limitation Act, comes into effect in B.C. on June 1, 2013.  The existing law – Limitation Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 266 -- states that the limitation period is six years, unless an exception applies, and there are several exceptions.  Under  Bill 34, the general limitation period will be just two years, again subject to some exceptions.  Exceptions under Bill 34 include matters subject to a limitation period set by an international convention or treaty that has been adopted by legislation, certain actions for the redemption or realization of collateral, and the enforcement of child or spousal support payable subject to a judgment.    
          As before, an action on an extra-provincial judgment for the payment of money or the return of personal property must be commenced before  the time for enforcement has expired in the jurisdiction where that judgment was made, or within ten years after the judgment became enforceable in the jurisdiction where the judgment was made.

Foreign Law
          Bill 34 expressly acknowledges that if the substantive law of another jurisdiction is the applicable law, the limitation period under that law will apply, except in certain cases pertaining to sexual and other assaults.   The existing law, to be repealed by Bill 34, allows the court discretion to apply either B.C. law or the applicable foreign law if the limitation law of that foreign law is considered procedural for private international law purposes, as necessary to achieve the most just result.

Acknowledgment of Liability
          As before, and as in other provinces, Bill 34 extends the limitation period if the defendant acknowledges liability, in a signed written document, or in the case of claims for liquidated damages the debtor has made a partial payment.

Transitional Provisions
          The new law will apply to claims discovered after the law goes into effect, even if the act or omission complained of occurred before the new law went into effect.

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