Court of Appeal Holds that Two Year Limitation Period Applies To Foreign Judgments

Andrew Ottaway, B.A. (Hons.), LL.B.Appeals, Commercial, Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, Of Interest to US Counsel0 Comments

There was conflicting case law in Ontario regarding whether a two-year limitation period applied to an action to enforce a foreign judgment in Ontario (from a jurisdiction to without a reciprocal enforcement agreement).

The Court of Appeal addressed that conflicting case law in Independence Plaza 1 Associates, L.L.C. v. Figliolini, 2017 ONCA 44.  The debate turned on whether an action to enforce a foreign judgment was a claim within section 16(1) of the Limitations Act, 2002, which creates a class of claims to which no limitation period applies.  Specifically, the question was whether a claim to enforce a foreign judgment is a claim to “enforce an order of a court or any other order that may be enforced in the same way as an order of a court” (under section 16(1)(b)).

The Court stated that a foreign judgment cannot be directly enforced in Ontario in the absence of reciprocal enforcement legislation.  A foreign judgment can only be enforced in Ontario after a proceeding is brought, making a foreign judgment “one step removed” from being “an order of a court” under section 16(1).   The Court of Appeal held that Ontario’s two-year limitation period applies to claims to enforce a foreign judgment.

The Court of Appeal also clarified when the two-year limitation period commences.  The Court stated that the limitation period usually commences once all appeals have been exhausted or all appeal periods have expired.  However, where applicable, the limitation period may not commence until the judgment creditor knew or ought to have known that the judgment debtor had exigible assets in Ontario and could be served with process.

The lawyers at Gilbertson Davis LLP have experience in assessing limitation periods and enforcing foreign judgments.  Please contact us to arrange for an initial consultation.

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About the Author
Andrew Ottaway, B.A. (Hons.), LL.B.

Andrew Ottaway, B.A. (Hons.), LL.B.

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