Category: Estoppel by Representation

Plaintiff’s Claim That Defendant Should Be Estopped From Relying On Limitation Defence Fails

In Field v. Harveythe Plaintiff was injured in a motor vehicle accident, and consequently brought an ICBC claim for damages. However, the ICBC claim was brought beyond the two year limitation period. The Court was left to determine if the action could be proceed, or if it was statute-barred, and consequently had to be dismissed. Counsel for the Plaintiff submitted that, under the circumstances of this case, the Defendants were estopped from relying on the limitation defence, and raised three forms of estoppel in submissions to the Court. One of these forms of estoppel was estoppel by representation.  The Court, however, ruled that the Plaintiff’s claim would be dismissed for being filed beyond the limitation period.


[13]           The plaintiff relies on Canadian Superior Oil Ltd. v. Paddon-Hughes Development Co., 1970 CanLII 3 (SCC), [1970] S.C.R. 932, at para. 19, where the court stated the essential factors giving rise to estoppel as:


(1)       A representation or conduct amounting to a representation intended to induce a course of conduct on the part of the person to whom the representation is made.

(2)       An act or omission resulting from the representation, whether actual or by conduct, by the person to whom the representation is made.

(3)       Detriment to such person as a consequence of the act or omission.


[14]           The plaintiff relies on the case of Revell v. Litwin Construction (1973) Ltd., [1991] 6 B.C.A.C. 243 (“Revell”), which held at p. 15 that “there is no requirement that the conduct, which was relied upon by the person who seeks to raise an estoppel, has been intentionally designed to induce that reliance.” The plaintiff also relies on Revell for the court’s ruling that:


… The issue is not so much whether the reliance was based on unequivocal conduct, as it is whether the conduct, when viewed through the eyes of the party raising the doctrine, was such as would reasonably lead that person to rely upon it [page 16].


… What is important is whether his conduct, active or passive, could reasonably have led Litwin to believe that he intended to complete his investment contract, as a consequence of which Litwin was induced substantially to perform its obligations under that contract [page 19].


[15]           Finally, the plaintiff relies on Williston v. Canada (Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development),2005 FC 829 (CanLII), 2005 FC 829, which held at para. 15 that:


… The perspective from which the application of the doctrine must be viewed is that of the person who seeks to rely on it and the issue is whether the conduct, when viewed through the eyes of the party raising the doctrine, was such as would reasonably lead that person to rely upon it. The underlying concept is that of unfairness or injustice.


[16]           The plaintiff argues that the December 15, 2008, letter where the adjuster stated: “…all matters herein set out are written without prejudice and for the purpose of negotiating terms for settlement,” and suggesting that the plaintiff retain the massage therapy bill to be discussed “… at the time of settlement” clearly suggested that ICBC, on behalf of the defendants, intended to settle the matter at some time in the future.


[17]           The plaintiff argues that, based on this representation, she was reasonably entitled to assume that no further legal action was necessary.


[36]           The plaintiff relies solely on the December 15, 2008, letter for her argument that the defence of estoppel can be applied as a defence to the provisions of the Limitation Act. That letter explicitly states: “[n]othing herein contained is or shall be construed as either an admission of liability on the part of the insured or a waiver or extension of any applicable limitation period.”


[37]           A reasonable interpretation of this letter in no way evidences a representation or promise, by convention or otherwise, to waive or extend the applicable limitation period. In my opinion, it does quite the opposite by warning the plaintiff that, although all claims are negotiated toward the goal of settlement, time is still running.


[38]           Limitation periods exist, in part, to encourage plaintiffs to bring their actions in a timely manner. The plaintiff has failed to bring her action in a timely manner and has not satisfied this court that there exists a lawful reason for her failure to comply with the provisions of the Limitation Act.