The Limitation Period in False Arrest/Imprisonment Cases

A recent decision looks at when the limitation period begins to run in a false arrest/false imprisonment case, as well as the impact of a peace bond on a negligent investigation claim.

In E.B.F. (Litigation guardian of) v. Ontario, 2013 ONSC 2581 (S.C.J.), the plaintiff sued the Crown for false arrest, false imprisonment, breach of Charter rights and negligent investigation arising out of charges laid against him by the O.P.P in 2008.  The plaintiff's daughter alleged he had sexually assaulted her.  The charges were ultimately withdrawn in 2009 after the plaintiff agreed to enter into a peace bond.  The claim was issued in 2011.  The Crown brought a motion to strike the claim.  There were two issues for the Court to consider:

1.  Whether the limitation period began when the plaintiff was arrested or when the peace bond was entered into; and
2.  Whether the peace bond represented the charges being terminated in the plaintiff's favour, a precondition to being able to pursue a negligent investigation claim.

Justice Chiappetta held there was no reasonable cause of action against the Crown.  A claim for false arrest, false imprisonment or breach of Charter rights crystallizes on the date of arrest.  Although the plaintiff alleged he was unable to determine the arrest was wrongful until after receiving legal advice and the results of a private investigation, there was no persuasive evidence that the plaintiff suffered from any mental or psychiatric disorder that would have impacted his ability to understand the arrest, the charges and his belief of innocence.

The plaintiff argued that since the only conditions imposed by the peace bond were to keep the peace and be of good behaviour (as every other citizen is required to do), the proceedings terminated in his favour.  Justice Chiappetta held that the agreement to withdraw the charges in return for a peace bond represented a negotiated compromise, and was not a termination of proceedings in the plaintiff's favour.

Since the plaintiff's claim was issued beyond the limitation period and he failed to show the proceedings were terminated in his favour, the claim was dismissed.

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