The Clock Is Ticking – Your Rights & The New Limitation Act
If you think you might have a claim against someone you need to know about significant changes to limitation periods that might prevent you from bringing that claim.
On June 1, 2015, the changes that came into effect with the Limitations Act, SBC 2012, c 13 (the “Current Act”) will begin to absolutely bar court claims. When the Current Act came into force it changed the limitation period for many claims to 2 years.
This means that if your claim arose on or after June 1, 2013 you will lose your right to sue 24 months after the claim was discovered.
For example, if you are owed a debt that became due on June 1, 2013 you will absolutely lose the right to collect that debt on June 2, 2015. If someone breached a contract with you on June 15, 2013, and you discovered it that day, you cannot sue for that breach on or after June 16, 2015.
JUNE 1, 2015 AND THE EXPIRY OF LIMITATION PERIODS
Because the Current Act came into force on June 1, 2013, a two year limitation period applies to any claims that arose after June 1, 2013. Therefore, on June 1, 2015 the Current Act will begin to bar claims that arose after June 1, 2013. If you have a claim that arose after June 1, 2013 you will lose your right to bring that claim to court 24 months from the date the claim was discovered. This includes claims for outstanding debts and breaches of contract.
The “Previous Act”, the Limitation Act, RSBC 1996, c 266, still applies to claims that existed before June 1, 2013 and which have not been brought to court.
BASIC LIMITATION PERIOD (2 YEARS)
The Current Act shortened the limitation period that applies to claims to 2 years from the date that the claim is discoverable. The Previous Act had various limitations periods depending on the claim (two, six and ten years). The Current Act has a 2 year general limitation period and exclusion, postponement and discoverability rules that affect when that period starts to run.
A claim is discovered when a person knew, or reasonably ought to have known: (a) that the injury, loss or damage has occurred; (b) that the injury, loss or damage was caused by an act or omission; (c) the identity of the person responsible; and (d) that, having regard to the nature of the injury, loss or damage, a court proceeding would be an appropriate means to seek to remedy the injury, loss or damage. The discovery rule applies to all claims, but special discovery rules apply to claims related to fraud, trust, future interests in property, demand obligations like promissory notes, security claims, claims by minors or those under a disability, etc.
ULTIMATE LIMITATION PERIOD (15 YEARS)
The Current Act also creates an ultimate limitation period of 15 years; whereas the Previous Act had a 30 year ultimate limitation period. The 15 year period begins to run when the act or omission that caused an injury, loss or damage occurred and not when you discover the claim.
CONCLUSION – REVIEW YOUR ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE
Review your accounts receivable and consider if you have any other claims. If you have any outstanding receivables dating from June 1, 2013 you will lose the right to collect on those accounts 24 months from the date they became due.
If you have a claim, or think you might have one, you should consult with one of our lawyers immediately to confirm when your rights expire. If you contact us in time we can take the necessary steps to ensure that you do not miss a limitation deadline.