In Joseph v Paramount Canada’s Wonderland, 2008 ONCA 469, the Court of Appeal unanimously declared that the common law doctrine of special circumstances is no longer applicable under the new Limitations Act, 2002. The special circumstances doctrine gave judges discretion, where special circumstances could be proven, to extend a limitation period so long as it did not prejudice the other party. The Court of Appeal reasoned that because limitation periods are designed to provide certainty to litigants, courts would no longer be permitted to extend limitation periods beyond the times prescribed by statute.
For plaintiffs, this means that they must be diligent in bringing an action within two years of the date of discoverability. For defendants, this decision provides some certainty that the two year limitation period under the Act is truly two years and is not subject to the discretion of the courts.
Regard should be had to section 19 of the Limitations Act, 2002, which makes reference to limitation periods governed by statutes other than the Limitations Act, 2002.