B.C.’s new Limitation Act: A 10-year limitation period to enforce domestic and foreign judgments

The British Columbia government advised in a press release recently that it has passed new limitations legislation that will be in force on June 1, 2013. The new Limitation Act (Bill 34) was passed by the B.C. legislature last spring and some of the highlights correspond with other provincial limitation acts, including the Ontario Limitations Act, 2002, including:

  • a single, two-year limitation period for most civil claims, such as those that involve personal injury and
  • 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.

The most striking difference is how the B.C. Limitation Act treats an “extraprovincial judgment” which is defined as follows:

“extraprovincial judgment” means a judgment, order or award other than a local judgment;

“judgment” means an extraprovincial judgment or a local judgment;

Unlike the Ontario Limitations Act, 2002, the B.C. Limitation Act  refers to extraprovincial (i.e. foreign judgments) and provides a basic ten (10) year limitation period for enforcement of domestic and foreign judgments as follows:

Basic limitation period for court proceeding
to enforce or sue on judgment

7  Subject to this Act, a court proceeding must not be commenced to enforce or sue on a judgment for the payment of money or the return of personal property,

(a) if the judgment is a local judgment, more than 10 years after the day on which the judgment becomes enforceable, or

(b) if the judgment is an extraprovincial judgment, after the earlier of the following:

(i) the expiry of the time for enforcement in the jurisdiction where the extraprovincial judgment was made;

(ii) the date that is 10 years after the judgment became enforceable in the jurisdiction where the extraprovincial judgment was made.

Conversely, the Ontario Limitations Act, 2002 provides that no limitation period applies in respect of enforcement of a “judgment” or domestic arbitral award:

No limitation period 

16.  (1)  There is no limitation period in respect of,

(b) a proceeding to enforce an order of a court, or any other order that may be enforced in the same way as an order of a court;

(d) a proceeding to enforce an award in an arbitration to which the Arbitration Act, 1991 applies;

See also, my previous post:  Two-Year Limitation Period Applies to Enforcing Foreign Judgments in Ontario and my Trials and Tribulations column at the Canadian Lawyer: Do provincial tolling statutes/limitations acts apply to non-residents?

In my view, the B.C. Limitation Act’s ten-year limitation period for enforcement of domestic or foreign judgments is a sensible legislative approach, balancing the rights of judgment creditors and judgment debtors.

Of course, practitioners must be mindful that if the foreign judgment is subject to a shorter limitation period in the foreign jurisdiction, then the shorter limitation period will apply.

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