Oct. 2, 2012
Ministry of Justice
Save the date: Law that sets civil suits time limits to change
VICTORIA - B.C.'s new law that sets the amount of time people have to file civil lawsuits will come into effect June 1, 2013.
When it comes into force, the Limitation Act will set out new limitation periods. There will be a single, two-year limitation period for most civil claims, such as those that involve personal injury.
Also, there will be an ultimate limitation period for legal matters that may not be discovered right away, in which case people will have up to 15 years to file most civil lawsuits.
These changes are consistent with reforms happening throughout Canada, better aligning B.C.'s law with other provinces. The reforms simplify and clarify the law, while also ensuring that people affected by it have enough time to become aware of their legal claim, consult with a lawyer and file a lawsuit.
Limitation periods impact things such as record-keeping practices, professional training requirements and the cost and availability of insurance.
These reforms have been welcomed by many professionals whose work is often exposed to long-term liability risk, such as dentists, engineers, construction professionals and local governments, because setting time limits on how long people have to make the decision to sue can provide businesses and professionals with a greater capacity for long-term planning.
The modernized Limitation Act was the result of extensive research and stakeholder discussion, including a green paper, a white paper, and more than five years of consultations with over 300 individuals, consumer groups, and business, legal and health-care professionals.
The Limitation Act was passed by the B.C. legislature this spring.
Setting the implementation date on June 1, 2013 allows the legal community and other stakeholders time to familiarize themselves with the changes.
The ministry is working with the Law Society of BC and the Continuing Legal Education Society of BC to develop educational materials that will provide support during the transition to the new law.