Nova Scotia: It’s abusive to file a claim merely to toll a limitation period

It’s an abuse of process to file a statement of claim to toll a limitation period where there’s no intention to proceed with the claim.

In BCE Inc. v. Gillis, the same firm filed nine virtually identical national class actions brought on behalf of the same plaintiff.  The firm’s correspondence to a prothonotary indicated that it intended to pursue national certification in Saskatchewan.  The defendant moved to stay the claim commenced in Nova Scotia on the basis that, among things, the plaintiff had no intention of proceeding there.  The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal held that tolling the limitation period alone could not justify the Nova Scotia action:

[75]        Dr. Gillis submits that filing the statement of claim in Nova Scotia allowed the limitation period to toll.  I do not accept that it is appropriate to file an action for the sole purpose of tolling a limitation if there is no intention to prosecute the case.  I again refer to the MLG correspondence to the prothonotary.

[76]        It is not unusual for courts to see statements of claim filed to meet the limitation periods pending ongoing investigation or settlement efforts. Those cases are distinct from this case where there never was any intention to proceed. It is an abuse of process to file a claim for the sole purpose of tolling the limitation period absent any intention to proceed.