In Sandro Steel Fabrication Ltd. v. Chiesa, 2013 ONCA 434, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld the motion judge’s decision that an agreement between parties to have an independent third party resolve a claim or assist in resolving it under section 11(1) of the Limitations Act, 2002, suspends the limitation period until the resolution of the claim, the termination of the resolution process or the termination of the mediation agreement.
The Court affirmed the following two aspects of the lower court’s decision:
- Section 11(1) is triggered when there is a finding that there was an agreement to mediate the claim after a dispute has arisen between parties.
- An agreement to mediate need not expressly reference the specific claim at issue in order to trigger section 11(1).
The Court of Appeal’s affirmation of the motions judge’s reasons was based on the motion judge’s finding that there was an agreement to mediate the claim between the parties.
However, the Court of Appeal did not endorse how broadly the motion judge interpreted section 11(1). The motion judge stated that even in circumstances where there is ambiguity as to what issues are to be addressed in the mediation, section 11(1) should operate to suspend the running of the applicable limitation period, otherwise a plaintiff may be reluctant to engage in a mediation process. The Court of Appeal expressly stated that its decision should not be taken as endorsing that part of the motion judge’s reasons.