NEWS

Nova Scotia Sexual Assault Lawsuit Time Limit To Be Scrapped

10/29/2014 01:06 EDT | Updated 12/29/2014 05:59 EST
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HALIFAX - People in Nova Scotia who want to file lawsuits over sexual and domestic assault would no longer have to do so within prescribed time limits under legislation introduced Wednesday.

Justice Minister Lena Metlege Diab said the Limitations of Actions Act would remove the one-year deadline faced by victims of sexual and domestic abuse who want to sue.

Metlege Diab said the act would better protect abuse victims while also respecting the rights of all parties involved in legal actions.

Jackie Stevens, executive director of the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre, said the legislation would help victims who often hesitate to come forward and often don't meet the one-year deadline to launch a lawsuit.

"This demonstrates a recognition of the tremendous impact historical and systemic violence can have on a person to act in a timely way," said Stevens.

She said she has heard of cases where people considered lawsuits but were prohibited by the statute of limitations.

But Stevens added that there are other factors that could stop people from seeking legal recourse including costs and the length of time lawsuits generally take to go through the courts.

No such lawsuits were brought forward in the last year, the Justice Department said.

The act would also set a two-year limitation period for civil claims involving such cases as personal injury or breach of contract.

There would also be a 15-year limit for legal claims that aren't discovered immediately such as an undetected medical complications that arise from surgery, or an injury that is the result of a previous car crash.

Dan Ingersoll, a lawyer for Engineers Nova Scotia, welcomed the new limits, saying the old law was unfair in that it could see his clients sued decades after the fact.

"People don't want to have to carry their file around with them in their garage or in a storage facility for decades," said Ingersoll.

Metlege Diab said the changes would bring the province's legislation in line with laws in six other provinces and would meet a call by the Uniform Law Conference of Canada for more modern laws governing civil actions.