Apology Act Promotes Dispute Resolution
March 28, 2006, VICTORIA – Corporations, governments and individuals will soon be able to offer a sincere apology as part of their dispute resolution process without fear of legal liability, thanks to new legislation being tabled today, said Attorney General Wally Oppal.
“There are times when an apology is very important and appropriate but the legal implications have long been uncertain,” said Oppal. “The Apology Act is designed to promote the early and mutually beneficial resolution of disputes by allowing parties to express honest regret or remorse by removing concerns that an apology amounts to an admission of liability or could void provisions of an insurance policy.”
“This is good news for resolving civil disputes earlier, more effectively and less expensively, because an apology so often diffuses emotions and breaks down barriers to a settlement. An apology can also help preserve relationships,” said Terry Harris, vice-president of the British Columbia Mediator Roster Society.
“This is a very welcome development,” said Professor Andrew Pirie, who teaches and researches in the area of dispute resolution in the Faculty of Law at the University of Victoria. “Wanting an apology is human nature. Sincerely saying ‘I’m sorry’ or other honest expressions of regret or remorse can go a long way to helping parties successfully work out their differences, which otherwise might end up in long and costly court battles.”
B.C.’s Apology Act is the first such legislation in Canada. Several American and all Australian jurisdictions have enacted similar legislation which excludes partial or full apologies from proof of liability.
“I thank the honourable member for Vancouver-Burrard, Lorne Mayencourt, for his earlier private member’s bill,” Oppal said. “It increased public awareness of the value of an apology in the settlement of disputes, and the public input that we received as a result benefited the legislation as a whole.”
The introduction of the Apology Act supports the ministry’s goal of reforming the civil justice system and making laws fair, equitable and efficient for all British Columbians, while protecting individual rights and judicial independence.
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