In this Civil Resolution Tribunal minor injury claim, ICBC was bound by an agreement to extend the limitation period.
The applicant was injured in a motor vehicle accident on August 5, 2019 in Coquitlam, British Columbia. It was undisputed that the applicant was not responsible for the accident. The applicant had no lawyer and ICBC represented the guilty driver.
ICBC alleged this injury claim was filed out of time under the Limitation Act, despite promises to extend this time.
Under the Limitation Act, there is a 2-year limitation period in British Columbia to start a claim, which runs from when the claim was discovered or ought to have been discovered. It is undisputed that the car accident occurred on August 5, 2019. The claimant filed their application for dispute resolution on April 6, 2022. The claimant therefore filed their application for dispute resolution more than 2 years after they discovered their claim. Generally, filing a claim “out of time” means that the claim is time barred and must be dismissed. However, limitation periods can be extended, postponed, or waived in certain circumstances.
In the Dispute Response it filed ICBC argued that the claim was out of time due to the Limitation Act. However, ICBC eventually conceded that the applicable limitation period was waived or extended. In this case there was clear promissory estoppel.
A party may be prevented from relying on the Limitation Act as a defence to a claim on the basis of a legal principle known as promissory estoppel. To establish promissory estoppel, it must be shown that ICBC, on behalf of the guilty driver, by words or conduct, made a promise or assurance that was intended to affect the parties’ legal relationship, and that the claimant acted on it or in some way changed their position in reliance on the promise (see: Maracle v. Travellers Indemnity Co. of Canada, 1991 CanLII 58 (SCC)).
As noted, the accident occurred on August 5, 2019, which means the limitation period under the Limitation Act would have expired on August 5, 2021. An email in evidence provided by ICBC shows that during settlement negotiations on April 28, 2021, an ICBC employee spontaneously advised Mrs. Khairi that due to Covid-19, their limitation period was extended to August 5, 2022. As a result, the ICBC employee advised the claimant there was no rush to make any decisions about settlement at that time.
ICBC file notes in evidence also showed that on March 23, 2022 and April 13, 2022, ICBC again incorrectly advised the claimant that the limitation period for claims relating to the accident was extended to August 5, 2022. During this time, settlement negotiations broke down, and the claimant applied for dispute resolution at the CRT on April 6, 2022.
The CRT found that ICBC made assurances that the limitation period would be extended to August 5, 2022.The CRT found that ICBC intended that promise to affect the parties’ legal relationship by extending the limitation period.
There was an explicit promise by ICBC to not be bound by the statutory limitation period, and ICBC waived the Limitation Act defence. The claimant was therefore able to continue with the claim. (2022 BCCRT 813)