2 Outline An introduction to engineering law and ethics: Limitation PeriodsOutlineAn introduction to engineering law and ethics:ethical theories, code of ethics and misconductwhistle blowing, conflict of interest and sexual harassmenthealth and safety, diversity, workplace equity and environmentCharter of Rights and Freedomstorts, contract and intellectual propertyContinuation of studies of professional practice:historyProfessional Engineers Act and Regulationlicensing, discipline and enforcement
3 Limitations for Liability Limitation PeriodsLimitations for LiabilityQuestions:How long can a party be held liable for negligence?How many years can a party be held accountable for a breach of contract?This was a matter of common-law precedence over many years, and the various and differing decisions made it difficult to determine when liability ends
4 Limitations for Liability Limitation PeriodsLimitations for LiabilitySome of the guiding principles are:The injured party should not “sleep on their rights”Over time, statutes were enacted that specified limitation periods after which litigation could not commenceLitigation after such expiration dates were “statute barred”
5 Limitation PeriodsDiscoveryIn Kamloops (City) v Nielsen, 1984, the Supreme Court of Canada articulated the concept of discoveryA house was being built by a contractor on loose fillCity by-laws allowed for discretion in performing inspectionsThe foundations were found to be insufficient by a city inspectorStop work orders and warnings were issued but not enforcedThe house was sold to the contractor’s parents who were made aware of the deficiencies, but who chose not to litigateThe Nielsen’s purchased the house when an inspection failed to find any deficienciesLater, the foundations subsided and the Nielsen’s sued the city and the contractorThe city claimed that there was no duty of care and the action was statute barred
6 Limitation PeriodsDiscoveryIn Kamloops (City) v Nielsen, 1984, the Supreme Court of Canada articulated the concept of discovery“Kamloops made a policy decision to regulate construction by by-law... In discharging this operational duty the City owed a duty of care to persons...likely to be injured by a breach of its duty.”“The City's breach of duty was causative...for it allowed construction to continue in breach of its duty to protect the plaintiff against the builder's negligence.”“Sections 3(1)(a) and 6(3) of the Limitations Act postponed the running of time until the acquisition of knowledge or means of knowledge of the facts giving rise to the cause of action. Plaintiff was not barred in the circumstances of this case by the failure of the first purchasers to litigate.”
7 Limitation PeriodsDiscoveryThe Supreme Court of Canada upheld the finding that the City of Kamloops and the contractor were found to be concurrent tortfeasorsFault for negligence:Contractor: 75 %City of Kamloops 25 %
8 Limitations Act of Ontario, 2002 Limitation PeriodsLimitations Act of Ontario, 2002In 2002, the Ontario legislature passed a new Limitations Act which:Has an ultimate limitation of 15 years from the completion of a project, andRequires that any action begin within two years of discoveryThere are exceptions, for example:Undiscovered environmental claims17. There is no limitation period in respect of an environmental claim that has not been discovered.
9 Limitations Act of Ontario, 2002 Limitation PeriodsLimitations Act of Ontario, 2002What is discovery?A claim is discovered on the earlier of,the day on which the person with the claim first knew,that the injury, loss or damage had occurred,that the injury, loss or damage was caused by or contributed to by an act or omission, andthat the act or omission was that of the person against whom the claim is mad, andthat, having regard to the nature of the injury, loss or damage, a proceeding would be an appropriate means to seek to remedy it;the day on which a reasonable person with the abilities and in the circumstances of the person with the claim first ought to have known of the matters referred to in clause a).
10 Variances to Limitation Periods There were objections to not allowing business agreements to vary the limitation periods, so in 2006, the Act was changed to allow business agreements to:Shorten or extend the 2-year limitation periodShorten the 15-year ultimate limitation periodExtend or suspend the 15-year ultimate limitation period, but only if the relevant claim was discovered prior to 15 years
11 Variances to Limitation Periods What is a business agreement?“business agreement” means an agreement made by parties none of whom is a consumer as defined in the Consumer Protection Act, 2002Who is a consumer?“consumer” means an individual acting for personal, family or household purposes and does not include a person who is acting for business purposes
12 Extensions to Limitation Periods Previously, the courts have often allowed for extensions beyond the expiration of the limitation period:A reasonable explanation for the delayThe potential defendants were aware of the claim prior to the expiration dateSuch allowable extensions fall under the common law doctrine of special circumstances
13 Extensions to Limitation Periods In York Condominium Corp. No. 382 v. Jay-M Holdings Ltd., 2007, the judge indicated that the purpose of the Act is“to balance the right of claimants to sue with the right of defendants to have some certainty and finality in managing their affairs.”
14 Extensions to Limitation Periods In the Act, however, the wording is clear:4. Unless this Act provides otherwise, a proceeding shall not be commenced in respect of a claim after the second anniversary of the day on which the claim was discovered.Sections 6 and 7 allow for extensions in the case of unrepresented minors and incapable personsSection 20 allows for extensions under other statutes
15 Extensions to Limitation Periods In Joseph v Paramount Canada’s Wonderland, 2008, the Ontario Court of Appeal questioned whether the common law doctrine of special circumstancesThe plaintiff was injured on the grounds on September 5th, 2004, after the introduction of the Limitations Act, 2002While documentation was forwarded to the defendant soon thereafter, the lawyer for the Mr. Joseph failed to have the claim issued until October 31st, 2006The lawyer had left instructions with his assistant to file prior to September 5th, 2006, but the assistant was under the impression that the old six-year limitation period was still in effect
16 Extensions to Limitation Periods In Joseph v Paramount Canada’s Wonderland, 2008, Keldman J.A. indicated that:“The question to be answered now is whether the legislature intended to preserve the court’s common law discretion to extend limitation periods under the new Act by applying the doctrine of special circumstances. As a matter of statutory interpretation, I have concluded that the answer must be no.”“[The Act] creates greater certainty by consolidating limitation periods.”“In fairness to the motion judge, the parties did not address the effect of the new Act on the special circumstances doctrine and appeared to assume that it was applicable.”
17 Limitation PeriodsReferences D.L. Marston, Law for Professional Engineers, 4th Ed., McGraw Hill, 2008. Julie Vale, ECE 290 Course Notes, 2011. Wikipedia, Limitations Act, Ontario, 2002 Consumer Protection Act, Ontario, 2002These course slides are provided for the ECE 290 class. The material in it reflects Douglas Harder’s best judgment in light of the information available to him at the time of preparation. Any reliance on these course slides by any party for any other purpose are the responsibility of such parties. Douglas W. Harder accepts no responsibility for damages, if any, suffered by any party as a result of decisions made or actions based on these course slides for any other purpose than that for which it was intended.
18 Cases Kamloops (City) v Nielsen, 1984, Supreme Court of Canada Limitation PeriodsCasesKamloops (City) v Nielsen, 1984, Supreme Court of CanadaJoseph v Paramount Canada’s Wonderland, 2008, Ontario Court of Appeal