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LIMITATION OF ACTIONS - Legislation - Interpretation - When time begins to run

Wednesday, February 24, 2021 @ 6:31 AM  


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Appeal by the Attorney General of Canada and a federal government officer (Canada) from the dismissal of their motion for the summary dismissal of the respondent Utah’s action. Utah claimed damages on the basis Canada failed to process his request for refugee protection in a timely manner, causing him injury. From 2007 to 2015, Utah met with the officer assigned to his refugee claim more than 70 times. He accessed independent legal advice over several years. In January 2016, Utah was asked to submit a new refugee application as his original application, submitted in 2007, had not been put forward due to errors by previous officers. Utah commenced his action in June 2018 after receiving documents from an access to information request.

HELD: Appeal allowed. The two-year limitation period started to run in January 2016 when Utah knew or ought to have known the injury had occurred, was attributable to Canada and warranted bringing a proceeding. When Utah started his action, the limitation period had expired. The Federal Court erred by failing to consider whether all the criteria in s. 3(1)(a) of the Limitations Act were met. It further erred in finding the two-year period did not start until Utah knew the identity of the officer who had misconducted himself. The action was dismissed.

Canada (Attorney General) v. Utah, [2020] F.C.J. No. 1241, Federal Court of Appeal, M. Nadon, J. Gauthier and D.W. Stratas JJ.A., December 29, 2020. Digest No. TLD-February222021005