Sunday, November 19, 2006

Apology Acts - Saying 'Sorry' Without Incurring Liability

The province of Saskatchewan will amend its Evidence Act to allow individuals and corporations to offer a sincere apology as part of their dispute resolution process without fear of legal liability.

On the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation website, the provincial Justice Minister is quoted as saying:

"Within legal parameters, I think individuals are very concerned about saying anything that might cause them some legal liabilities and we want to clarify that for people(...) We believe that this will allow matters of dispute between citizens to be resolved, in many cases without a lawsuit. Because sometimes it's not the financial compensation, it's the desire for restoration, for an apology, for an acknowledgment that somebody was hurt."

The text of the bill, known as the Evidence Amendment Act, 2006, is on the Legislative Assembly website.

The province of British Columbia was the first Canadian jurisdiction to introduce a law providing what is called a "safe harbour" for apologizing. The Apology Act of that province took effect on 18 May 2006.

Several American and all Australian jurisdictions have enacted similar legislation which excludes partial or full apologies from proof of liability.

The Ministry of the Attorney General of British Columbia published a discussion paper on apology laws in January 2006. The province's Ombudsman also reported to the B.C. Legislative Assembly in February 2006 on The Power of an Apology: Removing the Legal Barriers.

Both documents explore the legal, social and psychological issues surrounding public apologies and refer to non-Canadian legislation as well as to scholarly articles on the subject.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:56 pm


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