Extension and Suspension
Extension of Limitation Period by Acknowledging Liability
A limitation period can be extended by the defendant acknowledging liability. This is important to remember. If you are worried you might have missed a limitation period, think if the person you wanted to sue ever admitted they owed you something. If you are worried about being sued, you need to know the potential consequence of admitting you owe something.
The rule is set out in s. 24 of the Limitation Act. The rule is that
- A limitation period has not yet expired or
- The defendant acknowledges not only that a claim might be made, but that they have some liability (that is, agrees that they are at least somewhat fault and legally obliged to pay something)
Then the limitation periods will be treated as if they started to run on the day this acknowledgment was made.
This effectively allows parties who can agree that something must be paid, but disagree on what, to try to settle the claim without having to run to Court to file.
Suspension of Limitation Periods
A limitation period is “suspended” during the time that a person with a claim is under a disability. A person “under a disability” is defined as “an adult person who is incapable of or substantially impeded in managing their affairs”. This is set out in s. 1 and part 5 of the Limitation Act.
In deciding if a person is “under a disability” the Court will consider whether that person:
- Is aware of the facts giving rise to the cause of action
- Understands the nature and purpose of Court including the role of judge, jury and counsel
- Understands the how the case will affect their interests and
- Is able to understand legal advice being given to them and able to instruct counsel and make critical decisions
These are factors that will be considered. Every factor does not have to be present for a person to be under a disability.