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B.C. to reduce time for filing lawsuits

Apr 17 2012

British Columbians will have less time in which to sue one another, under proposed new legislation by the government Monday.

Most civil lawsuits will soon fall under a single, two-year, limitation period, with a maximum limit of 15 years in special circumstances, according to the government bill.

Those deadlines will replace the current system, which uses a complicated method to decide upon a two, six or 10-year basic limits. It will also cut in half the overarching ultimate time limit, which is currently 30 years.

Justice Minister Shirley Bond said the changes, which have been in the works since a 2010 discussion paper, bring B.C. into line with other provinces.

Bond said the changes will make it easier for businesses, such as dentists, who will no longer have to save client records for 30 years in case someone sues them in a dispute.

The current law exempts victims of sexual abuse from any deadlines on civil lawsuits. That exemption will be extended to children who suffer physical abuse. The bill also removes limits on lawsuits against people who owe unpaid child or spousal support.

Once passed into law, the changes won’t be retroactive but will include a “transition clause” for people currently involved in legal disputes, potentially adding additional time beyond 15 years under certain circumstances.

rshaw@timescolonist.com

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