Did you know there are time restrictions to commence a lawsuit? In 2015, the Limitation of Actions Act, SNS 2014, c 35, was introduced that reduced the amount of time a person has to file a lawsuit.

What is a limitation period?  A limitation period is the amount of time a person has to file required documents to commence a legal action. Once the limitation period has passed, in most circumstances, the claim is barred from being brought forward.

When does the clock start? A limitation period begins once a person becomes aware or ought to have known that loss, injury or damage has occurred as a result of the action or omission of the party being sued. Generally, under the Limitation of Actions Act, limitation periods are the earlier of:

  • two years from when the person has knowledge or ought to have knowledge of the loss, injury or damage, or
  • fifteen years from the date action or omission occurred.

If the person bringing forward the claim is a minor, the limitation period does not begin to be calculated until the person is the age of majority. If a person is incapable of bringing forward a claim because of physical, mental or psychological condition, the limitation period does not commence to be calculated until they are capable of bringing forward the claim.

There are limited exceptions to limitation periods. Some exceptions include actions by the Crown (government), claims arising out of sexual assault, and Aboriginal and treaty rights claims.

When does the Limitations of Actions Act apply? Limitation periods in the Limitations of Actions Act do not apply to everything. Examples of when limitation periods apply include damage to your property, failure to adhere to a contract, or a personal injury.

If general limitation periods in the Limitation of Actions Act conflict with specific limitation periods named in other laws, then the more specific limitation period applies. For example, the Companies Act, RSNS 1989, c 81, specifies a limitation period of one year from the dissolution date to commence an action against shareholders of a dissolved company. In this case, the limitation period in the Companies Act prevails for claims of that nature, instead of the more general limitation period in the Limitation of Actions Act. If you are not sure what the limitation period might be for your particular situation, a lawyer can advise you on the limitation period that applies based on the specific nature of your claim.

If you believe you have grounds to commence a legal action, you should consult with a lawyer without delay to ensure a time limit does not interfere with your ability to recover.

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