Unjust Enrichment And The Issue Of Limitation PeriodsGenerally, Alberta courts accept that limitation periods do apply to unjust enrichment claims in the family law context and that the general two-year limitation period begins at the date of separation.

As we know from Alberta’s Limitations Act, (RSA 2000, c L-12), the two-year general limitation period begins when the claimant knew, or in the circumstances ought to have known, of a claim. However, when a Plaintiff knew or ought to have known of a claim is not necessarily as at the date of separation as the limitation period may be suspended where there has been misconduct by the other party.

For example, the Alberta Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal in Ambrozic v. Burcevski, [2009] A.J. No. 544, and confirmed that in circumstances where there has been fraudulent concealment of a material fact, the usual limitation period of two years and the ultimate limitation period of ten years is suspended until the Plaintiff “ought to have discovered the facts material to the claim.”

In Rehwald v. Kibsey, [2010] A.J. No. 1615, the Court of Appeal allowed an appeal and overturned a decision in which an unjust enrichment claim was determined to be barred. The Court of Appeal determined that it was not appropriate for the chambers judge to issue “declaratory relief” in what amounted to a summary dismissal of an unjust enrichment claim, without having required the procedural steps required by the summary judgment application. This means that a limitation period argument may not be suitable as an issue for summary judgment, given the fact-specific nature of when a limitation period is engaged.