Written By: Lindsay Charles and Sonam Sapra, Student-at-Law
In Ontario, limitation periods are governed by the Limitations Act, 2002 (“Limitations Act”). A limitation period is the window of time that a party has to commence an action against another party. For the most part, the standard limitation period in Ontario is two years from the date of loss or the date that the loss was discovered. Failing to commence an action within the limitation period is a complete defence; this means that the failure to commence an action within the limitation period will result in an action being dismissed.
The Limitation Period for Sexual Assault Claims Prior to 2016
By commencing a civil lawsuit, victims of sexual assault can obtain compensation for their pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages. However, prior to 2016, victims of sexual assault were required to factor in the limitation period when commencing a lawsuit. Specifically, s.16(1)(h) of the Limitations Act provided that there was no limitation period for claims based on sexual assault if, at the time of the assault, the perpetrator had charge of the person assaulted or was in a position of trust or authority.
Bill 132 and the Current Limitation Period for Sexual Assault Claims
In 2016, Bill 132 Sexual Violence and Harassment Action Plan Act (Supporting Survivors and Challenging Sexual Violence and Harassment) received Royal Assent. The primary purpose of Bill 132 was to protect individuals from the threat of sexual violence, sexual harassment, and other forms of abuse.
To achieve its purpose, Bill 132 amended s.16(1)(h) of the Limitations Act to eliminate the limitation period for all claims based on sexual assault. This means that there is now no limitation period for claims based on sexual assault.
Further, the amendment to the Limitations Act applies retroactively. Individuals can now advance a claim based on sexual assault even if the limitation period that was previously in place period has expired. The exception, however, is that an individual cannot advance a claim if the claim was previously dismissed by a court or was previously settled by the parties.
The move to eliminate the limitation period for all claims based on sexual assault significantly expands the protection afforded to victims of sexual assault. Victims are now afforded the time to process what occurred without a strict deadline. Ultimately, eliminating the limitation period for claims based on sexual assault signifies progress and is a step forward.
How Can McLeish Orlando Help?
If you have experienced a sexual assault, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. However, advancing a claim based on sexual assault can be a complicated and emotional process. The lawyers at McLeish Orlando are experts in civil litigation and can help you navigate the process and provide skilled support during a difficult time.