Ontario: the limitation of claims arising from assault and battery


The Court of Appeal granted the plaintiff’s appeal in Brown v. Woodstock.  The motion judge had found his claims statute-barred based on jurisprudence holding that a cause of action for damages for false arrest, false imprisonment, and breach of Charter rights crystallizes on the date of arrest, and that the limitation period for an assault or battery runs from the date assault or battery occurred.  I though it want’t a very good limitations decision, because cause of action accrual has nothing to do with the commencement of time.

The court followed its decision in Winmill as the basis for overturning the summary judgment:

[5]         In our view, Winmill cannot be distinguished from this case on the basis that the charges in this case are different, or that the prosecution of the appellant ended with his entering into a peace bond rather than an acquittal. Nor is it relevant that Winmill was also concerned with a claim for negligent investigation. The key point is that, as in Winmill, the battery action is essentially a mirror image of the criminal charge the appellant was facing. As a result, it was open to the appellant to await the outcome of the criminal proceedings against him before finally deciding whether to bring his action, regardless of when he first formed the intention to sue.

[6]         Specifically, the discovery date for the appellant’s action was October 22, 2015 – the date the criminal charges him were brought to a conclusion with a peace bond. The appellant had two years from that date in which to bring his action. Therefore, the appellant’s action, which was commenced May 13, 2016, is not time barred. The respondent fairly concedes that, if the claim in battery is to proceed, then it is appropriate to reinstate the entire action, with the exception of the appellant’s claim for malicious prosecution, which the appellant has abandoned.