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The New Limitations Act: What you need to know

The Government of Manitoba passed recent legislation that is set to come into force on September 30, 2022 called Bill 51. It accomplishes two things: it repeals The Limitations of Actions Act and replaces it with The Limitations Act. The new legislation makes some significant changes from the old. These changes are critical to understand for lawyers and anyone considering bringing civil claims, as the new Act contains important differences in limitation periods.

The Limitation of Actions Act

Prior to September 30, 2022, claims were subject to The Limitation of Actions Act. This statute contained the rules for limitations and applied differently based on the type of claim. For instance, defamation actions needed to be started within two years following the publication of defamatory material. Trespass to chattels held a two-year limitation and real property actions had six-year limitation periods beginning when the cause of action arose. Claims for the recovery of judgments were limited at 10 years following the day the judgment became enforceable. All claims not specifically covered in the Act had a limitation of six years to file from when the cause of action arose. The old Act also had an ultimate limitation set at 30 years after the acts or omissions forming the basis of the claim occurred. However, to take advantage of the ultimate limitation, a claimant had to obtain leave of the court to bring actions subject to the ultimate limitation.

The Limitations Act

The new legislation does away with many of the different limitations. Instead of trying to tailor a limitation to the type of claim being brought, the new Act creates a basic limitation period of two years after discovery of the claim. This means that the limitation begins to run from the moment a claim is or ought to have been discovered. The notion of discovering a claim was not contained in the old legislation. In addition to all this, the new Act establishes an ultimate limitation period of 15 years. This ultimate limitation applies from the moment the acts or omissions forming the basis of the claim occur. This rule limits claims even if the basic two-year limitation has not expired. How could this be? Take for example a fictional case of negligence. Jim suffers a blow to the head as a result of Bob’s negligence. This is day one. Fourteen years following these events, Jim finds that he has suffered brain damage as a result of the blow, and might have a legal claim against Bob. The Act considers this moment the “discovery” of the claim. The clock starts ticking at year 14, rather than on day one. Under the new Act, Jim’s claim extinguishes at the end of 15 years following the original blow. If the accident occurred on October 1, 2020, the ultimate limitation expires on October 1, 2035. Although Jim discovers the claim on October 1, 2034, he must file before October 1, 2035, even though his basic limitation would run until October 1, 2036.


The changes from the old to the new legislation are quite dramatic and apparent at even a quick glance. Gone are the various limitations based on the type of action. The 6-year limitation that covered many claims is gone. In its place, we now have a basic two-year limitation. This two-year limitation applies to every claim unless there is a specific exception. The ultimate limitation is dramatically shorter, cut in half, from 30, down to 15 years. This is going to have a serious impact on any claims not commenced before September 30, 2022. If a claim arising in 2017 previously had a 6-year limitation, a claimant could still file in 2023 under the old Act. The new Act contains a transitional provision, which makes all claims not yet started before September 30, 2022 subject to the new limitations period. Beginning September 30, the new two-year limitation would apply and extinguish this claim because it is beyond the 2-year basic limitation. This is a critical detail to keep in mind if considering filing a claim where the cause of action arose more than two years ago.


In conclusion, this new limitations legislation is set to have a profound effect on litigation in Manitoba. The basic and ultimate limitations periods will be dramatically shorter. In addition, the basic limitation will apply to all claims unless specifically covered by an exception. People who are considering filing claims should speak to a lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that limitation periods do not expire, which is especially important in light of the much shorter basic and ultimate limitations.

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Notice: The articles on our website are provided for general information purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice or opinion. They reflect the current state of the law as at the date of posting on the website, and are subject to change without notice. If you require legal advice or opinion, we would be pleased to provide you with our assistance on any of the issues raised in these articles.