Nova Scotia’s “Statute of Limitations” – the time limit for filing a claim in court

statue of limitations of actions nova scotia

Did you know there were time limits to file a claim in court in Nova Scotia? Well, there is! Depending on the type of claim you have, the amount of time you have to start your lawsuit can vary substantially. This period of time is called a “limitation period”.

In Nova Scotia, the limitation period is determined by the type of legislation that your claim falls under. If the legislation does not set out a time period, then the Limitations of Actions Act will outline the time limits to follow.

New Limitation of Actions Act

This legislation became law on September 1, 2015. This new Act was created in attempted to incorporate more clarity and fairness into the process. The Act strives to find balance between the competing rights of plaintiffs and defendants. As limitation periods prevent a claimant from starting a lawsuit after a certain period of time has passed, the Act aims to ensure that this period of time is one which is reasonable for a claimant to make the decision whether or not to sue, while also respecting the defendant’s right to certainty and closure about a potential claim being filed against them.

Timelines under the Act

Under the Act, the limitation period is two years for all standard civil claims where no other legislation exists that creates a limitation period for filing. What that means is if the claim you are filing is under a legislation that sets out its own time limitation, this legislation would take precedence over the two year period. For example, to file a builders’ lien, you must use the time limits set out in the Builders’ Lien Act rather than the default periods contained in the new Limitation of Actions Act.

The time limit clock starts ticking from the date the person “discovers” (or ought to have discovered if they were acting reasonably) that they have a legal claim. If your claim takes longer to discover, the Act also provides for a fifteen year “ultimate” time limitation period. Examples of where the ultimate time period would apply would be certain claims of medical malpractice, such as where a medical problem resulting from a surgery is discovered several years after the fact.

Exceptions for sexual acts

Additionally, the Act provides for some exceptions to general two year rule. These exceptions are with respect to claims regarding sexual misconduct, or sexual abuse. In these circumstances, the Act provides that there is no time limit for making such a claim and even allows claims dating retroactive to the passing of the Act.

As a result of these limits, it’s advisable to always check with a lawyer for legal advice as soon as you think you might have a claim so you can understand how long you have to start a lawsuit..

Contact us for advice

If you have any questions about this subject, you can call us at (902) 826-3070 or email us at to set up a meeting with one of our lawyers at our Tantallon law firm. You can also schedule a no commitment Issue Review Consult for $100+HST where you have the opportunity to explain your situation to a lawyer and get basic advice before deciding whether or not you'd like to retain us.

By: Amanda Toulany, J.D., Articled Clerk

The information and materials on this blog are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. Nothing contained on this blog is legal advice or constitutes a legal opinion. While it is our goal to provide information which is current, legislative changes and court decisions, among other matters, may result in some information no longer being current or accurate. You should consult a lawyer before relying on any information. The views expressed herein by individual contributing lawyers posting entries to the blog are solely those of the authors and should not necessarily be attributed to or considered representative of the firm of Highlander Law Group Lawyers.