How much time do you have to start a case for a legal claim in British Columbia?
If you have a legal claim that can go to a court or a tribunal, the case almost always has to be started within a set period of time. The Limitation Act sets out the applicable period of time for different types of claims.
Download PDF Limitation Act Legislation
What you should know
If you have a legal claim that can go to a court or a tribunal, the case almost always has to be started within a set period of time.
After this time runs out, a court or tribunal can refuse your claim, no matter how strong your case would have been.
The time limit is called a “limitation period.” It’s like a countdown. You have to start your case with the Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) or a court before it runs out.
Different limitation periods
Limitation periods are different for different claims. They often come from the Limitation Act. This law sets the countdown for many cases at 2 years.
But some claims have limitation periods shorter than 2 years. For example, the limitation period for a claim against a city or municipality might be as short as 30 days. They can also be longer. For example, you might have up to 10 years to enforce a court judgment.
Some claims don’t have limitation periods. For example, the countdown might not apply at all for claims for assault or sexual misconduct involving minors, people in intimate relationships, or people in dependent relationships.
Extending the limitation period
A court or tribunal might decide to extend a limitation period, because the person with the claim couldn’t have found out about it before the countdown finished.
A limitation period can also change if the person who caused the harm or loss does something to confirm the other person’s right to make a claim.
To avoid problems with limitation periods, it’s best to answer these questions:
- How long is the limitation period for my claim?
- When did my limitation period start to count down?
- When will my limitation period run out?
We can’t answer these questions for you. In answering these questions, you may want to ask for help from a lawyer. There are some resources for finding a lawyer below.
Limitation periods and the Solution Explorer
The limitation period will be counting down while you use the Solution Explorer. You need to start your case with the CRT or a court before it runs out.
What you can do
Let’s say you think you have a claim. But you aren’t sure about the limitation period. Here are steps people might take in your situation:
- Get help from a lawyer to learn about the limitation period.
- Start the case as soon as possible – before there is any chance that time will run out.
- Try to gather more information about the limitation period that applies to the case.
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