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Amending Pleadings and Limitation Periods

. Polla v. Croatian (Toronto) Credit Union Limited

In Polla v. Croatian (Toronto) Credit Union Limited (Ont CA, 2020) the Court of Appeal considered the law on amending pleadings to plead a new cause of action that could be limitation-barred:
[32] The general rule respecting the amendment of pleadings is that an amendment shall be granted at any stage of a proceeding on such terms as are just, unless prejudice would result that could not be compensated for by costs or an adjournment: Rules of Civil Procedure, R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 194, r. 26.01. The expiry of a limitation period in respect of a proposed new claim is a form of non-compensable prejudice, where leave to amend to assert the new claim will be refused: Klassen v. Beausoleil, 2019 ONCA 407, 34 C.P.C. (8th) 180, at para. 26.

[33] There is no real dispute between the parties about the applicable test. In 1100997 Ontario Limited v. North Elgin Centre Inc., 2016 ONCA 848, 409 D.L.R. (4th) 382, this court observed that an amendment to a statement of claim will be refused if it seeks to assert a “new cause of action” after the expiry of the applicable limitation period. As this court explained, at para. 19, in this context, a “cause of action” is “a factual situation the existence of which entitles one person to obtain from the court a remedy against another person” (as opposed to the other sense in which the term “cause of action” is used – as the form of action or legal label attached to a claim: see the discussion in Ivany v. Financiere Telco Inc., 2011 ONSC 2785, at paras. 28-33).

[34] The relevant principles are summarized in Paul M. Perell & John W. Morden, The Law of Civil Procedure in Ontario, 4th ed. (Toronto: LexisNexis Canada, 2020), at pp. 220-21, as follows:
A new cause of action is not asserted if the amendment pleads an alternative claim for relief out of the same facts previously pleaded and no new facts are relied upon, or amount simply to different legal conclusions drawn from the same set of facts, or simply provide particulars of an allegation already pled or additional facts upon [which] the original right of action is based.
This passage has been cited with approval by this court. See 1100997 Ontario Limited, at para. 20, Davis v. East Side Mario’s Barrie, 2018 ONCA 410, at para. 32, and Klassen, at para. 29.

...

[38] In conducting this assessment, the court must read the pleadings generously in favour of the proposed amendment: Klassen, at para. 30; Rabb Construction Ltd. v. MacEwen Petroleum Inc., 2018 ONCA 170, 29 C.P.C. (8th) 146, at para. 8. The existing pleadings, together with the proposed amendment, must be considered in a functional way – that is, keeping in mind that the role of pleadings is to give notice of the lis between the parties. As such, the question in this case is whether the respondents would reasonably have understood, from the Amended Statement of Claim and the particulars provided on discovery, that the appellant was pursuing a claim in respect of the matter addressed by the proposed amendment.
. 1100997 Ontario Limited v. North Elgin Centre Inc.

In 1100997 Ontario Limited v. North Elgin Centre Inc. (Ont CA, 2016) the Court of Appeal usefully canvasses the principles that apply to amending pleadings where a limitation period may have run out:
(b) Legal Principles Regarding the Amendment of Pleadings

[19] A cause of action is “a factual situation the existence of which entitles one person to obtain from the court a remedy against another person”: Letang v. Cooper, [1965] 1 Q.B. 232 (C.A.), at pp. 242-43, as adopted by this court in July v. Neal (1986), 1986 CanLII 149 (ON CA), 57 O.R. (2d) 129 (C.A.), at para. 23.

[20] In Morden & Perell, The Law of Civil Procedure in Ontario, 2nd ed. (Markham: LexisNexis Canada Inc., 2014), at p. 142, the authors state:
A new cause of action is not asserted if the amendment pleads an alternative claim for relief out of the same facts previously pleaded and no new facts are relied upon, or amount simply to different legal conclusions drawn from the same set of facts, or simply provide particulars of an allegation already pled or additional facts upon which the original right of action is based. [Footnotes omitted.]
[21] In Dee Ferraro Ltd. v. Pellizzari, this court noted the distinction between pleading a new cause of action and pleading a new or alternative remedy based on the same facts originally pleaded. The appellants had commenced an action against their lawyer claiming damages for breaches of contract, trust and fiduciary duty and for fraud and negligence. The appellants then sought to amend their pleading. This court, in overturning the motion judge’s dismissal of the motion to amend, concluded that the proposed amendments, such as claims for a mandatory order and a constructive trust over shares, could be made because they flowed directly from facts previously pleaded.

[22] By contrast, a proposed amendment will not be permitted where it advances a “fundamentally different claim” after the expiry of a limitation period: Frohlick v. Pinkerton Canada Ltd. In that case, the court did not permit the plaintiff in a wrongful dismissal action to amend the statement of claim to assert a claim for damages for constructive dismissal on the basis that the limitation period had expired. This court dismissed the appeal. The amendment regarding constructive dismissal related to events that occurred prior to the events described in the original statement of claim that were unrelated to that claim. The defendant was unaware of the new allegations prior to the plaintiff seeking the amendments, and the events were not put in issue or encompassed within the original claim.

[23] Based on the foregoing, an amendment will be refused when it seeks to advance, after the expiry of a limitation period, a “fundamentally different claim” based on facts not originally pleaded.
. Klassen v. Beausoleil

In Klassen v. Beausoleil (Ont CA, 2019) the Court of Appeal considered the test for amending pleadings in light of the expiry of limitation periods:
(1) The test to be applied

[24] I begin with the text of r. 26.01 of the Rules. It provides:
On motion at any stage of an action the court shall grant leave to amend a pleading on such terms as are just, unless prejudice would result that could not be compensated for by costs or an adjournment. [Emphasis added.]
[25] The rule is framed in mandatory terms: the court must allow the amendment, unless the responding party would suffer non-compensable prejudice, the proposed pleading is scandalous, frivolous or vexatious, or the proposed pleading fails to disclose a reasonable cause of action: 158844 Ontario Ltd v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., 2017 ONCA 42, 135 O.R. (3d) 681, at para. 25; Iroquois Falls Power Corp. v. Jacobs Canada Inc., 2009 ONCA 517, 264 O.A.C. 220, at paras. 15-16.

[26] The expiry of a limitation period is one form of non-compensable prejudice. A party cannot circumvent the operation of a limitation period by amending their pleadings to add additional claims after the expiry of the relevant limitation period: Frohlick v. Pinkerton Canada Ltd, 2008 ONCA 3, 88 O.R. (3d) 401, at para. 24; 1100997 Ontario Ltd. v. North Elgin Centre Inc., 2016 ONCA 848, 409 D.L.R. (4th) 382, at paras. 21-23; United Food and Commercial Workers Canada, Local 175 Region 6 v. Quality Meat Packers Holdings Limited, 2018 ONCA 671, at paras. 64; Davis v. East Side Mario’s Barrie, 2018 ONCA 410, at paras. 31-32. In this regard, the “addition of new statute-barred claims by way of an amendment is conceptually no different than issuing a new and separate Statement of Claim that advances a statute-barred claim” (emphasis added): Quality Meat Packers, at para. 64; citing Frohlick, at para. 24.

[27] An amendment will be statute-barred if it seeks to assert a “new cause of action” after the expiry of the applicable limitation period: North Elgin, at paras. 19-23, 33; Quality Meat Packers, at para. 65. In this regard, the case law discloses a “factually oriented” approach to the concept of a “cause of action” – namely, “a factual situation the existence of which entitles one person to obtain from the court a remedy against another person”: North Elgin, at para. 19; Quality Meat Packers, at para. 65.

[28] An amendment does not assert a new cause of action – and therefore is not impermissibly statute-barred – if the “original pleading … contains all the facts necessary to support the amendments … [such that] the amendments simply claim additional forms of relief, or clarify the relief sought, based on the same facts as originally pleaded”: Dee Ferraro, at paras. 4, 13-14; North Elgin Centre Inc., at paras. 20-21; East Side Mario’s Barrie, at paras. 31-32; Quality Meat Packers, at para. 65. Put somewhat differently, an amendment will be refused when it seeks to advance, after the expiry of a limitation period, a "fundamentally different claim" based on facts not originally pleaded: North Elgin, at para. 23.

[29] The relevant principle is summarized in Paul M. Perell & John W. Morden, The Law of Civil Procedure in Ontario, 3rd ed. (Toronto: LexisNexis, 2017), at p. 186:
A new cause of action is not asserted if the amendment pleads an alternative claim for relief out of the same facts previously pleaded and no new facts are relied upon, or amount simply to different legal conclusions drawn from the same set of facts, or simply provide particulars of an allegation already pled or additional facts upon [which] the original right of action is based.[2]
[30] In the course of this exercise, it is important to bear in mind the general principle that, on this type of pleadings motion, it is necessary to read the original Statement of Claim generously and with some allowance for drafting deficiencies: Farmers Oil and Gas Inc. v. Ontario (Ministry of Natural Resources), 2016 ONSC 6359, 134 O.R. (3d) 390 (Div. Ct.), at para. 23.

[31] Finally, the court may refuse an amendment where it would cause non-compensable prejudice. The prejudice must flow from the amendment and not some other source: Iroquois Falls, at para. 20. At some point the delay in seeking an amendment will be so lengthy, and the justification so inadequate, that prejudice to the responding party is presumed. In this event, the onus to rebut the presumed prejudice lies with the moving party: State Farm, at para. 25.

[32] Alternatively, the responding party may resist the amendment by proving actual prejudice – i.e. by leading evidence that the responding party has lost an opportunity in the litigation that cannot be compensated by an adjournment or an award of costs as a consequence of the amendment. It is incumbent on the responding party to provide specific details of the alleged prejudice: State Farm, at para. 25.

[33] Irrespective of the form of prejudice alleged, there must be a causal connection between the non-compensable prejudice and the amendment. The prejudice must flow from the amendment and not from some other source: State Farm, at para. 25.
. The Catalyst Capital Group Inc. v. Dundee Kilmer Developments Limited Partnership

In The Catalyst Capital Group Inc. v. Dundee Kilmer Developments Limited Partnership (Ont CA, 2020) the Court of Appeal discussed when an amended claim runs the risk of a exceeding limitation period:
[75] I accept this submission. The governing principles were stated by this court in Klassen v. Beausoleil, 2019 ONCA 407, 34 C.P.C. (8th) 180, at paras. 27-30:
An amendment [to a statement of claim] will be statute-barred if it seeks to assert a “new cause of action” after the expiry of the applicable limitation period: North Elgin, at paras. 19-23, 33; Quality Meat Packers, at para. 65. In this regard, the case law discloses a “factually oriented” approach to the concept of a “cause of action” — namely, “a factual situation the existence of which entitles one person to obtain from the court a remedy against another person”: North Elgin, at para. 19; Quality Meat Packers, at para. 65.

An amendment does not assert a new cause of action — and therefore is not impermissibly statute-barred — if the “original pleading ... contains all the facts necessary to support the amendments ... [such that] the amendments simply claim additional forms of relief, or clarify the relief sought, based on the same facts as originally pleaded”: Dee Ferraro, at paras. 4, 13-14; North Elgin Centre Inc., at paras. 20-21; East Side Mario's Barrie, at paras. 31-32; Quality Meat Packers, at para. 65. Put somewhat differently, an amendment will be refused when it seeks to advance, after the expiry of a limitation period, a “fundamentally different claim” based on facts not originally pleaded: North Elgin, at para. 23.

The relevant principle is summarized in Paul M. Perell & John W. Morden, The Law of Civil Procedure in Ontario, 3rd ed. (Toronto: LexisNexis, 2017), at p. 186:
A new cause of action is not asserted if the amendment pleads an alternative claim for relief out of the same facts previously pleaded and no new facts are relied upon, or amount simply to different legal conclusions drawn from the same set of facts, or simply provide particulars of an allegation already pled or additional facts upon [which] the original right of action is based.
In the course of this exercise, it is important to bear in mind the general principle that, on this type of pleadings motion, it is necessary to read the original Statement of Claim generously and with some allowance for drafting deficiencies: Farmers Oil and Gas Inc. v. Ontario (Ministry of Natural Resources), 2016 ONSC 6359, 134 O.R. (3d) 390 (Div. Ct.), at para. 23.


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