Legislating the Role of Apologies in Litigation by Benjamin M. Bathgate & Joseph C. D'Angelo

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The Ontario provincial government may soon be getting into the business of regulating apologies.

It started with a recommendation by the Uniform Law Conference of Canada to the Ontario Bar Association to urge the Ontario government to enact apology legislation. At the time of writing, a private member's bill, "Bill 59 – An Act Respecting Apologies," had received second reading and had been sent to the Standing Committee on Social Policy. The proposed legislation would effectively stipulate that an

apology:

*cannot be admissible in court for the purpose of proving liability or as an admission of liability;

*cannot be used as confirmation of a cause of action to extend a limitation period; and

*cannot be regarded as an admission of liability for the purpose of voiding an insurance policy.

Similar legislation already exists in British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The objective of such legislation is to encourage early and cost-effective resolution of disputes and/or prevent the commencement of lawsuits where apologies are offered. This article examines the traditional role of apologies in the legal context and questions whether the intended legislation will accomplish its objectives.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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