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Federal Court Limitation Periods

Updated: May 29

Written by Kelli Day

Black & Associates

In Ontario, there is a general limitation period of two years. This means that a person must commence an action within two years of discovering their claim, as defined by the Limitations Act, 2002. This two-year period generally provides claimants with a sufficient opportunity to carefully consider whether they wish to initiate a lawsuit, taking into account all relevant factors such as the financial burden, chances of success, and the associated time commitment. The two-year period also serves the important purpose of ensuring that potential defendants do not have to live with an indefinite threat of litigation.


However, the Limitations Act, 2002 does not apply in every case and there are other, more onerous, limitation periods which apply to particular proceedings. In the case of applications for judicial review pursuant to the Federal Courts Act, the applicable limitation period is thirty (30) days.


Specifically, section of 18.1(2) of the Federal Courts Act states as follows:


An application for judicial review in respect of a decision or an order of a federal board, commission or other tribunal shall be made within 30 days after the time the decision or order was first communicated by the federal board, commission or other tribunal to the office of the Deputy Attorney General of Canada or to the party directly affected by it, or within any further time that a judge of the Federal Court may fix or allow before or after the end of those 30 days.


Notably, the legislation does provide the Court with discretion to extend the limitation period both before and after its expiration, but only in certain limited circumstances. It therefore goes without saying that claimants must act very quickly in order to protect their legal rights. Accordingly, if you are affected by an administrative decision which is captured by the Federal Courts Act and you are considering filing an application for judicial review, it is imperative that you seek legal advice as soon as possible.


Our lawyers have experience assisting clients with applications for judicial review both before the Federal Court and the Superior Court of Justice. If you have questions about limitation periods or an application for judicial review, please contact one of our litigators.


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