Waiting For Police Report Held Insufficient to Postpone Limitation Period in ICBC Claim


Section 6(4) of the BC Limitation Act states in part that a limitation period “does not begin to run against a plaintiff…..until the identity of the defendant…is known to the plaintiff“.  Reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, considering this provision in the context of an ICBC Claim.
In this week’s case (Telus Corporation v. Araneda) equipment owned by Telus was struck by a motor vehicle causing $43,000 in damage.  They sued the party they alleged was responsible but did so nine days after the limitation period expired.
Telus argued that the running of the period should be postponed by several days under s. 6(4) of the Limitation Act because it took 18 days for them to receive the police report identifying the defendant.  Mr. Justice McEwan rejected this argument and dismissed the lawsuit.  In doing so the Court provided the following reasons:


[20]. On the day of the accident, Telus, through its employee Dale Summers, knew it had a claim for property damage and knew the name of the tortfeasor was immediately ascertainable from a reliable source, the RCMP.

[21] In saying so, I reject Telus’ argument that a large enterprise should be judged on its “ individual circumstances” and that its step-wise approach to the management of its legal claims is akin to the situation in Strata Plan LMS 2940 v. Quick as a Wink Courier, 2010 BCCA 74. There the Court of Appeal upheld a judge of this Court who had found that an action brought by a strata corporation against an individual one day outside the limitation period was not statute-barred because the strata corporation was obliged to pass a resolution before it could initiate the action, and doing so took some time.

[22] Telus was not impeded by a statutory prerequisite, and there is no reason in principle why a large organization should be judged by a more accommodating standard than would apply to any competent individual. As in Meeker, Telus knew on the first day of the accident that it had suffered actionable harm and that the name of the person involved was ascertainable.

[23] It is regrettable that the limitation period went by in this case. As some of the case law demonstrates Courts frequently go some distance to ensure that cases are tried on their merits. The policy inherent in limitation periods, however, must also be respected. Applying the relevant legal principles to the present case, Telus has not established that it is entitled to postponement, and the action must be dismissed.


bc injury law, Limitation Act, Limitation Periods, Mr. Justice McEwan, postponement of limitation period, Section 6 limitation act, section 6(4) limitation act, Telus Corporation v. Araneda

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ERIK
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When not writing the BC Injury Law Blog, Erik is the managing partner at MacIsaac & Company, based in Victoria, B.C. He is also involved with combative sports regulatory issues and authors the Combat Sports Law Blog.

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