A little appreciated fact are the broad timeframes at play when certain individuals can sue their abusers for either sexual or physical abuse.
For many years BC has had no limitation period for claims relating to sexual assault. Whether the victim is a minor or an adult a lawsuit can be brought at any time against their sexual assailant. In cases without actual sexual assault but that amount to “misconduct of a sexual nature” there also is no limitation period if the victim was a minor at the time of the misconduct.
But what about cases of physical assault with no sexual nature? Historically these were subject to the limits set out in BC’s Limitation Act. However, in 2013 changes to the Act came into force which removed limitation periods for certain victims of non sexual abuse.
Section 3(1)(k) came into force and removed limitations for lawsuits based on
(k)a claim relating to assault or battery, whether or not the claimant’s right to bring the court proceeding was at any time governed by a limitation period, if the assault or battery occurred while the claimant
(i)was a minor, or
(ii)was living in an intimate and personal relationship with, or was in a relationship of financial, emotional, physical or other dependency with, a person who performed, contributed to, consented to or acquiesced in the assault or battery;
The broad section gives the right for children to sue their abusers at any time. It also expands this right to those in financially, emotionally or physically dependent relationships with their abusers.
Assault and battery are legally simple concepts. Battery simply refers to the unwanted application of intentional force. Assault is the threat of the application of such force. Anyone perpetrating these wrongs to vulnerable victims can be pursued at any time to be made accountable for their wrongdoing. This expanded limitation period was discussed in a case published earlier this year by the BC Supreme Court.
In Khan v. School District No. 39 the Plaintiff sued for various historic allegations of harm. In discussing those that were and were not statute barred Mr. Justice Majawa provided the following comments on the current state of the Limitation Act: