If you have suffered a loss as a result of a legal wrong, such as a breach of contract or wrongful dismissal, don’t hesitate before contacting a qualified lawyer. There are limits to how long you can wait before commencing a civil claim, and waiting too long can defeat your claim altogether.

The Ontario Limitations Act, 2002 and the two-year basic limitation period

There are justifications for limiting the amount of time someone can wait before commencing a lawsuit. By restricting the length of time a claimant has to begin their claim, the Limitations Act, 2002 protects potential defendants from the risk of being sued for an indefinite period of time. In addition, as time passes it becomes increasingly difficult to discern the important details of a case; the memories of witnesses fade, and evidence is often lost.

The time available to bring a legal claim for damages in Ontario is established by the Limitations Act, 2002. Under the Act, a basic two-year limitation period applies. This period begins on the date that the plaintiff “discovered” their right to sue.

What does it mean to “discover” a claim or right to sue?

A claim is considered to have been “discovered” by a potential plaintiff on the day when they knew, or ought to have known, that:

  • their injury, loss or damage occurred;
  • the injury, loss or damage was caused or contributed to by an act or omission;
  • the defendant to be named in the claim committed that act or omission; and,
  • in light of the injury, loss or damage suffered, a legal proceeding would be the appropriate means to seek a remedy.

A party must be aware of the injury or losses before their claim is considered to have been “discovered”, but these may not become apparent until some time after the fact. For example, if a contractor performs sub-standard work, it may not come to light until some time after the project is completed.

While the two-year limitation period applies in most civil claims, there are a number of situations where it may not. Consulting a lawyer as soon as legal issues arise is the best way to ensure that you do not miss the window for making a claim.

Exceptions to the basic two-year limitation period

In addition to the Limitations Act, 2002, there are additional laws that impose shorter or longer time limits for commencing a claim. The various exceptions to the basic limitation period make contacting a lawyer as soon as possible even more important. In some situations, contracts can include provisions that alter or restrict the ordinary limitation period, and there are many situations where much shorter limitation periods apply.

Answers to your questions about limitation periods

If you believe that you may have a legal claim, waiting too long to consult with a lawyer can potentially jeopardize your right to recovery. At Duncan, Linton LLP, our experienced team of lawyers can review your case, provide pragmatic counsel, and help you determine the best course of action.

If you have concerns about a possible breach of contract, estate dispute, wrongful dismissal, or any other potential legal claim, we can help. Do not hesitate to reach out and speak with one of our lawyers, contact us online or call 519-886-3340 to make an appointment.