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Are you Out of Time? Limitations Periods and how they impact your case

Posted on 9 July, 2019 at 16:10

Limitation periods are one of the issues that I must review with new clients prior to taking any action on their file. While some clients are aware of what these are, and others have a vague idea from American television (references to the Statute of Limitations), most clients are unaware of what a limitation period is and how it impacts their case.

When it comes to legal matters, as time goes on, witnesses have fading memories, and evidence is no longer available. It may also not be particularly fair to hold potential claims over people for the rest of their life. People move on, and deserve the chance of a fresh start. At the same time, a party who has been wronged also needs the ability to bring a case to address the wrong done to them, but this must be done within a reasonable period of time.

The reasonable timeliness of a claim is addressed by what the legal community calls a limitation period. What this means is that for most legal matters, there is a strict time limit on taking action, after which the claimant is prevented from taking any action, and the responding party is free from the burden of litigation. The general limitation period in Ontario is two years. This means 2 years from the time of the events which give rise to the claim. This may be a different date for different matters, for instance if a claim is based on a loan where periodic payments are made, the Plaintiff has 2 years from the time that the debtor fails to pay the loan. In a personal injury case, the claim may be from the date of the accident, or the date that a particular injury was apparent (which it may not be on the date of the accident).

Limitations periods are very important to litigation before both courts and tribunals, because they will impact your ability to bring a claim. Now to be clear, not all limitations periods are 2 years and there are other exceptions that often apply which may extend the timeline, so it is important to consult a legal professional about the time limits applicable to your matter. For instance, many Landlord and Tenant Board applications have only a 1 year limitation period. For more information about limitation periods or advice on your legal matter, please contact GLS.

 

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