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Are Canadians liable to be sorry?


SevenSeasJim
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) -- A Canadian province wants to make it easier for people to say they are sorry without the fear of being sued.

British Columbia proposed legislation Tuesday to allow people, companies and public officials to apologize without it becoming an admission of liability.

"There are times when an apology is very important and appropriate, but the legal implications have been uncertain," Attorney General Wally Oppal said.

The province's ombudsman had asked for the legislation, saying in a report in February that apologies can soothe the anger of citizens wronged by the government.

From CNN

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Here's a draft of the proposed legislation...

BILL 16 -- 2006

APOLOGY ACT

Contents

Section

1 Definitions

2 Effect of apology on liability

3 Commencement

HER MAJESTY, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of British Columbia, enacts as follows:

Definitions

1 In this Act:

"apology" means an expression of sympathy or regret, a statement that one is sorry or any other words or actions indicating contrition or commiseration, whether or not the words or actions admit or imply an admission of fault in connection with the matter to which the words or actions relate;

"court" includes a tribunal, an arbitrator and any other person who is acting in a judicial or quasi-judicial capacity.

Effect of apology on liability

2 (1) An apology made by or on behalf of a person in connection with any matter

(a) does not constitute an express or implied admission of fault or liability by the person in connection with that matter,

(B) does not constitute a confirmation of a cause of action in relation to that matter for the purposes of section 5 of the Limitation Act,

© does not, despite any wording to the contrary in any contract of insurance and despite any other enactment, void, impair or otherwise affect any insurance coverage that is available, or that would, but for the apology, be available, to the person in connection with that matter, and

(d) must not be taken into account in any determination of fault or liability in connection with that matter.

(2) Despite any other enactment, evidence of an apology made by or on behalf of a person in connection with any matter is not admissible in any proceeding and must not be referred to or disclosed to a court in any proceeding as evidence of the fault or liability of the person in connection with that matter.

Commencement

3 This Act comes into force on the date of Royal Assent.

Explanatory Note

This Bill provides that an apology made by or on behalf of a person in relation to any civil matter does not constitute an admission of fault or liability by the person or a confirmation of a cause of action in relation to the matter, does not affect the insurance coverage available to the person making the apology, is not admissible in any judicial or quasi-judicial civil proceeding and must not be considered or referred to in relation to fault or liability in any such proceeding.

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Actually Ollie, I know you're being sarcastic, but it is about time.

Our Justice Minister, Wally Oppal, used to be a judge in BC. Presumably, like me, he has seen innumerable matters result in lawsuits in which plaintiffs have said, "If they would only have apologized, I would have left this alone."

Apologies could avoid much unnecessary litigation, and the resultant expense to society.

This legislation is a good thing.

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Well, to play Devil's Advocate, though...

...the other side to this is that this law might actually prevent a Court from considering an admission made by a tort-feasor immediately following a tortious event, on the basis that it was part of an apology. Some would argue that this law will thereby impede the truth from coming out in Court, to the detriment of the wronged party.

(Then again, that might not be the case, and we'll have to see whether a Court will find, for instance, in the case of, "I'm sorry I accidentally dropped that boulder on your head, which I shouldn't have been juggling in the first place," that only the words "I'm sorry" are not admissible in Court, in which case - no problem for the victim, because the words "I accidentally dropped that boulder on your head, which I shouldn't have been juggling in the first place" would still be admissible.) See what I mean?

To say the least Plaintiff-side personal injury lawyers aren't really impressed with this.

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