The Blunt Force of Limitation Periods

October 5, 2018 Paul Emile Trudelle Beneficiary Designations, Estate & Trust, Estate Planning, Trustees, Uncategorized, Wills Tags: , , 0 Comments

“No one likes to see a limitation period applied to dismiss a claim. That said, there are good reasons for limitation periods. This case is an example of why they exist.”

So says Justice Nakatsuru in the opening line of his decision of Sinclair v. Harris, 2018 ONSC 5718 (CanLII).

There, the estate trustees of the estate of Virginia Rock (“Rock”) sued Merilyn and Frederick Harris (“the Harris’s”), claiming an equitable interest in lands purchased by the Harris’s, as part of the funds for the purchase of the lands were provided by Rock.

There, the relevant time line was as follows:

July 12, 2000:             Rock provides money to the Harris’s to buy a property

August 5, 2003:           The Harris’s sell the property. Rock was apparently aware of this.

November 17, 2015:   Rock dies

February 24, 2017:     Rock’s estate trustees commence the action

Justice Nakatsuru found that the 10 year limitation period under the Real Property Limitations Act applied. He disagreed with the estate trustees’ position that no limitation period applies to a claim for resulting trust. As the claim was a claim for the recovery of land (or “money to be laid out in the purchase of land”), the limitation period in the Real Property Limitations Act applied.

The court held that the limitation period would have commenced on the date the funds were advanced. Alternatively, it would have run from the time when the Harris’s sold the property. Under either interpretation, the limitation period had passed.

The action was dismissed.

Justice Nakatsuru said that “No one likes to see a limitation period applied to dismiss a claim.” No one other than a defendant.

Footnote: Justice Nakatsuru has been called the “poetic” judge and lauded in Macleans Magazine for his “heartfelt, easy-to-read rulings”. For an excellent example of this, see his decision on a bail application in R. v. Sledz, 2017 ONCJ 151 (CanLII).

Have a great weekend.

Paul Trudelle

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