Five Year Limit on Litigation

Managing Litigation

Once you have commenced a lawsuit and presumably, you have done that within the 2 year limitation period, you only have a limited time to litigate.

That’s five (5) years. If it takes you any longer, then, your claim automatically will be struck out.

The purpose is to ensure that Court cases don’t go on forever.

The obligation is placed upon the Plaintiff to set the matter down for trial within 5 years of the commencement of the lawsuit. That should be more than enough time.

That’s actually fine for large corporations, insurance companies, banks and government agencies, but what about the individual plaintiff, the buyer who unknowingly purchased a former marihuana grow house for $1 million, only to find out that it is only worth $600,000.00 and is subject to a $900,000.00 mortgage?

First step is to retain a lawyer to institute an action. Now, the lawyer wants more money to pursue the case. Unfortunately, that continues and following the payment of several retainers, it looks like we have the wrong lawyer who is just not that experienced in this type of case. The next lawyer wants more money, in fact, a rather substantial retainer. That gets paid, but for some reason, the case really doesn’t progress at all. Now, it’s time for the third or even fourth lawyer on the file.

You can easily appreciate that the 5 year time period can be eaten up rather quickly. It’s not uncommon for lawyers:

  • To get sidetracked
  • Fail to delegate important steps and tasks
  • Operate with an insufficient retainer
  • Focus on other cases
  • Generally procrastinate
  • Fail to undertake the basic legal research
  • Require breaks and vacation time
  • Suffer from illness
  • Simply retire from practice

When it comes to the client, they must respond to requests for information and attend to the financing of the litigation on a timely basis.

The most suitable lawyer for a case is frequently a challenge. An experienced lawyer from a small firm may be ideal at the outset, but over the course of time, perhaps retaining a 500 lawyer Law Firm would have been better. You won’t be bumping up against the 5 year limit. However, it will cost more!

Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker

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