Changes to BC’s Limitation Act

BC’s new Limitation Act came into effect on June 1, 2013 repealing and replacing the province’s current Limitation Act, which dates back to 1975.  The new Act governs how long a claimant has to bring a civil lawsuit (such as the ability to sue for a consumer debt owing) if no other statute contains a specific time period. Amongst the changes is the move from a variety of basic limitation periods, based on the type of legal action, to a single two-year basic limitation period for all civil claims (with some exceptions).

How will the reduction in the basic limitation period from six years to two years affect creditors who are trying to recover unpaid debts?

  • Claims for unpaid debts or unfulfilled obligations owing to a creditor will be governed by the two-year basic limitation period, which runs from the date the claim is discovered.
  • A two-year basic limitation period is intended to encourage people to act on their legal problems quickly and prevent stale-dated claims. Having a two-year basic limitation period that applies to all claims will simplify the law and reduce uncertainty about which basic limitation period applies to a set of facts.
  • The two-year period is designed to provide sufficient time for a plaintiff to discover a claim, seek legal advice, consider the available options and commence court proceedings.
  • This change brings B.C.’s law in line with limitations legislation in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and New Brunswick, which all have a single two-year basic limitation period.

For more information about the key changes in the new Limitation Act and a brief Q&A visit: http://www.ag.gov.bc.ca/legislation/limitation-act/pdf/LA_QAs.pdf