Nova Scotia’s New Limitation Act Helps Sexual Abuse Victims

by John McKiggan

Nova Scotia has proclaimed a new Limitation of Actions Act. That is the law that establishes the statute of limitation period (how long a plaintiff has to sue) for various claims.

There are a number of important changes in the new statute of limitations. Specifically it shortens the limitation period for many claims to two years.

Court still has discretion to extend limitation periods

Nova Scotia used to be unique in that our Limitation of Actions act had a “saving” provision. Even if a plaintiff missed a limitation period the court had discretion to extend the limitation period for up to four additional years if the plaintiff was able to show that there was no prejudice to the defendant.

In the new version of the Limitation of Actions Act the court still has discretion to extend limitations period. However the discretion has been shortened to a maximum of two years after the expiry of the limitation.

This discretion only exists for personal injury claims. So if you have a contract claim (or any other claim that isn’t for personal injuries) and you miss the limitation period you are out of luck.

Therefore, as of September 1, 2015 anyone who wants to file a claim for compensation as a result of personal injuries has two years to file their lawsuit or, in some cases, a maximum of four years (the two year limitation period included in the legislation plus a possible two year extension).

No Limitation Period for Sexual Assault Victims

The most important change for my clients who have been victims of sexual assault is the fact that Nova Scotia has eliminated the limitation period for claims based on sexual assault, domestic violence and assaults involving anyone who is financially, emotionally or physically dependant on another person.

New Limitation Act is retroactive

Another important change is that the new limitation period has been made retroactive for sexual assault victims.

Some people know it is not uncommon for victims of sexual abuse to come forward decades after they were assaulted. In some cases survivors have missed limitation periods because the time to file a law suit ran out before they had the strength and courage to be able to come forward to file a claim.

Nova Scotia’s new legislation protects the rights of innocent sexual assault victims and provides them the opportunity to get access to justice.

If you are looking for more information about how Nova Scotia’s new Limitation of Actions Act will affect your legal rights you can contact me for a free consultation.

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