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Equifax and Transunion win Court of Appeal decision

Case Comment on Grant v. Equifax Canada Co. et al., 2016 ONCA 500

Gary Grant thought he was free from his debts. They were older than two years, and he knew that the Limitations Act, 2002 protected him from his creditors’ ability to sue him. 

But Equifax and Transunion, Canada’s only two consumer reporting agencies still listed Gary’s debts on their reports, making that information available to every credit grantor in Canada. The agencies adhere to the Consumer Reporting Act, which allows their reporting on a person’s debts for up to six years, even though the debt is no longer enforceable after two years in Ontario.

Gary thought that was wrong, and he applied to the court to order them to remove his debts that were over two years old. The Court did not agree with Gary, and he lost.

So Gary appealed to the Ontario Court of Appeal. 

The Court of Appeal released its decision on June 23, 2016 and held that the Limitations Act does not apply to the Consumer Reporting Act (“CRA”) either expressly or by implication:  

“The CRA expressly contemplates that debts not reduced to judgment that are up to seven years old may be reported (see s. 9(3)(f)). This makes sense, as the passing of a limitation period does not extinguish a debt; it only precludes the commencement of a court proceeding for its enforcement. As such, the reporting of debts after a limitation period has passed, is not inconsistent with the purposes of the CRA, and is expressly contemplated by its terms.”

The Court of Appeal dismissed Gary’s appeal, and gave him a costs bill of $11,000 for the attempt.

From Gary’s perspective, however, is it not discriminatory for a debtor to suffer what could be perceived as a slander on his name for credit grantors to see for four more years, when the reality of Gary’s debt is that it is not enforceable? How is six years any more appropriate than two? Who came up with the arbitrary time limit of six years to report on a person’s debt? Is a person going to be more credit worthy during that four years? Who says so?

Perhaps it is time to pair the Limitations Act, 2002 and the Consumer Reporting Act – how about three years each?

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