Lifting the suspension of limitation periods

 

March 25, 2021

 

 

COVID-19 Related Measures Act (“CRMA”)

The CRMA came into force on July 10, 2020 and enacts a temporary legal framework for ministerial orders and regulations made during the state of emergency.  A general overview and background may be found in the province’s Information Bulletin on the CRMA.

A table including a brief description of the various ministerial orders set out in the Schedules to the CRMA, and a link to each ministerial order can be found here.
 

Lifting the suspension of limitation periods

The state of emergency including the suspension of limitation periods, in effect since March 26, 2020, is no longer tied to the provincial state of emergency declared under the Emergency Program Act, and will end one year after the suspension began. It started at the beginning of the day on March 26, 2020 and has been lifted at the end of the day on March 25, 2021 (see the order). There is no further transition or grace period beyond March 25, 2021.

This does not mean that all limitation periods are automatically ending on March 25, 2021 – the examples below will show you how your limitation period may be affected. This applies to all civil and family proceedings in BC Provincial Court, BC Supreme Court and BC Court of Appeal. 

But don’t wait to file your Notices of Claim and Notices of Appeal. Do it now.

These guidelines were developed by the Lawyers Indemnity Fund, in consultation with the BC Ministry of Attorney General, and is shared as educational material.  It is not intended to constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon for those purposes.  The Ministry of Attorney General confirms that the examples provided above are consistent with the policy intent for how the suspension of limitation periods relating to the COVID-19 pandemic was meant to function.

First determine that BC law applies to the claim.*

Limitation Period scenarios for BC claims

Effect of Suspension of

Limitation Periods

Example

 

If the limitation period expired before the suspension  

No effect.  The limitation remains expired.

  • A motor vehicle accident occurred on February 26, 2018.
  • The limitation period would normally expire on February 26, 2020.
  • The limitation period expired on February 26, 2020 if no action was commenced as the suspension of limitation periods has no application.

If the limitation period would normally have expired between March 26, 2020 and March 25, 2021

Add 1 year to the expiry year of the limitation period. (You have the same amount of time remaining after the suspension of limitation periods as you did before)

  • A motor vehicle accident occurred on April 27, 2018.
  • The limitation period would normally expire on April 27, 2020 but for the suspension.
  • The limitation period now expires on April 27, 2021.**

If the cause of action arose before March 26, 2020 and would normally expire after March 26, 2021

Add 1 year to the expiry year of the limitation period

(You have the same amount of time remaining after the suspension of limitation periods as you did before)

  • A motor vehicle accident occurred on June 1, 2019.
  • The limitation period would normally expire on June 1, 2021 but for the suspension of the limitation period.
  • The limitation period now expires on June 1, 2022.

 

If the cause of action arose after the suspension of limitation

periods but before March 25, 2021

The limitation period

expires March 26, 2023

(A limitation period that began to run during the suspension starts to run when the suspension is lifted)

  • A motor vehicle accident occurred on October 28, 2020.
  • The limitation period would normally expire on October 28, 2022.
  • The limitation period now starts to run on March 26, 2021. (The suspension is lifted at the end of the day on March 25, 2021)***
  • The limitation period therefore expires on March 26, 2023.****

Note: At the time of this Notice, the discretionary power provided to entities that have statutory power to waive, suspend or extend a limitation period will continue until 90-days after the state of emergency is lifted (see sections 1 and 3 of Item 7 of Schedule 2 to the COVID-19 Related Measures Act ).  That discretionary power is not intended to extend to courts.

* For example, in a contract claim, BC law including BC limitation law will not apply automatically simply because a party commences an action here. The parties may have contractually agreed to another jurisdiction’s law applying to the contract. In another example, under conflict of laws principles, a court may conclude that the claim is more clearly connected to a jurisdiction other than BC, and that the other jurisdiction’s law applies to the claim.

**For greater clarity, April 27, 2021 is the last day to file the Notice of Civil Claim.

***Please see s. 4(3) of the Interpretation Act.

**** March 26, 2023 is a Sunday. Please refer to the Interpretation Act to determine what impact, if any, this has on the expiry of the limitation period.

This document was developed by the Lawyers Indemnity Fund of the Law Society of BC and is shared as educational material. It is not intended to constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon for those purposes. The Ministry of Attorney General confirms that the examples provided above are consistent with the policy intent for how the suspension of limitation periods relating to the COVID-19 pandemic was meant to function.

Time Period Scenario for Appeals to BC Court, with limitation periods governed by BC law

Effect of Suspension of Limitation Periods

Example

If the time period within which your civil or family appeal must be commenced would normally have expired between March 26, 2020 and March 25, 2021 (i.e., during the suspension) but started running before the suspension.

You have the same amount of time remaining after the suspension of limitation periods as you did before the suspension.

  • An order was pronounced on March 16, 2020 to which the 30-day time period in section 14 (1) (a) of the Court of Appeal Act applies*
  • 9 days of this 30-day time period elapsed before limitation periods were suspended on March 26, 2020, leaving 21 days to appeal
  • Time starts running again on March 26, 2021. You therefore have 21 days, i.e., until on or before April 15, 2021 to bring your appeal

If the time period within which your civil or family appeal must be commenced would normally have started running between March 26, 2020 and March 25, 2021 (i.e., during the suspension).

Your time period starts to run on March 26, 2021.

  • An order was pronounced on December 10, 2020 to which the 30-day time period in section 14 (1) (a) of the Court of Appeal Act applies
  • You have 30 days from and including March 26, 2021 to bring your appeal, i.e., on or before April 24, 2021**

 

Notes:

* The 30-day period in section 14 (1) (a) of the Court of Appeal Act is simply one example of a time period that applies to certain appeals in British Columbia.  You must determine the applicable time period to appeal as there are different appeal time periods. For example, section 6 of the Small Claims Act sets a different time period for appealing certain BC Provincial Court small claims orders to the BC Supreme Court.

** April 24, 2021 is a Saturday so your limitation date may be affected by the Interpretation Act.

The suspension of limitation periods applies to third party proceedings.

A list of the relevant ministerial orders, sections of the COVID-19 Related Measures Act and amendments to the Act, with respect to limitation periods are:

Note: In addition, certain federal limitation periods are suspended pursuant to An Act respecting further COVID-19 measures, which received royal assent on July 20, 2020. The legislation suspends certain federal limitation periods from March 13, 2020 to September 13, 2020, or any earlier day fixed by order of the Governor in Council. Part 3 of the Act enacts the Time Limits and Other Periods Act (COVID-19) and sets out which Acts or regulations are affected.

COVID-19 Related Measures Act Orders

Order/

Amendment

BC Reg.

Date of Order / Effective Date

Brief Description of the Order

Related Information Bulletin

Link to the Order

391/2020

172/2020

July 10, 2020

This order brings the CRMA into force. In addition, the order repeals certain ministerial orders and amends Schedule 2 by adding 22 - Commercial Tenancy (COVID-19); 23 - Residential Tenancy (COVID-19) Order No. 2; and 24 - COVID-19 (Societies Act) Regulation.

 

Click here

435/2020

188/2020

July 21, 2020

This order amends the Act by adding 23.1 – Health Care Labour Adjustment (COVID-19) Order No. 2 and repealing certain Health Care Labour Adjustment Orders.

 

Click here

449/2020

195/2020

July 30, 2020

This order brings the COVID-19 (Residential Tenancy Act and Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act) Regulation into effect as of March 18, 2020 and amends the Regulation. Certain sections of the Regulation are repealed.

 

Click here

451/2020

194/2020

July 30, 2020

The order repeals certain sections of (Local Authorities and Essential Goods and Supplies (COVID-19) Order) which relate to BC ferry services and local authority implementing local emergency plans for the area.

 

Click here

453/2020

199/2020

August 4, 2020

This order creates the COVID-19 (Limitation Periods in Court Proceedings) Regulation which provides that there is a 45 day grace period to file Notices of Appeal after the date on which the last extension of the declaration of a state of emergency and a 90 day grace period to file Notices of Claim in Supreme Court of British Columbia and Provincial Court of British Columbia.

This does not apply to a mandatory limitation period under the Builders Lien Act; or Division 5 [Builders Liens and Other Charges] of Part 5 [Property] of the Strata Property Act.

IB regarding limitation periods explains how the CRMA enacts the further suspension of limitations and mandatory time periods, and it provides guidance on calculating the end date of your limitation or time period.

Click here

457/2020

200/2020

August 4, 2020

This order creates the COVID-19 (Passenger Transportation Act) Regulation effective April 1, 2020 and repeals certain provisions.

 

Click here

459/2020

204/2020

August 6, 2020

This order creates COVID-19 (Limits on Actions and Proceedings) Regulation, effective January 1, 2020 and repeals certain provisions.

IB regarding civil liability explains a new regulation adopted to provide certain protections from civil liability with respect to transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Click here

475/2020

212/2020

August 14, 2020

This order creates COVID-19 (Residential Tenancy Act and Manufactured Home Tenancy Act)(No. 2) Regulation and repeals certain provisions.

 

Click here

477/2020

215/2020

August 14, 2020

This order amends the Act by adding 23.2 – BC Ferries Medical Travel (COVID-19) Order.

 

Click here

485/2020 219/2020 August 21, 2020 This order amends the Act by adding 23.3 – Gatherings and Events (COVID-19) Order and also amends the Violation Ticket Administration and Fines Regulation, B.C. Reg. 89/97.   Click here
492/2020 223/2020 August 31, 2020 This order amends OIC 391 (BC. Reg. 172/2020) deadline of item 22 (Commercial Tenancy (COVID-19) Order) to be repealed by October 1, 2020.   Click here
566/2020 258/2020 September 20, 2020 This order amends Schedule 2 of the Act by adding 23.4 – Food and Liquor Premises, Gatherings and Events (COVID-19) Order and repeals item 23.3   Click here
579/2020 267/2020 November 9, 2020 This order repeals item 28 of Schedule 2 and adds item 29 – COVID-19 (Residential Tenancy Act) and Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act)(No. 3) Regulation to be repealed by July 10, 2021.   Click here
586/2020 269/2020 November 13, 2020 This order repeals item 23.4 of Schedule 2 and adds item 23.5 – Food and Liquor Premises, Gatherings and Events (COVID-19) Order No. 2 to be repealed 90 days following the last extension of the declaration of a state of emergency.   Click here
593/2020 271/2020 November 24, 2020 This order amends the Act by adding item 23.6 – Use of Face Coverings in Indoor Public Spaces (COVID-19) Order in Schedule 2, to expire 90 days after the state of emergency is repealed   Click here
620/2020 277/2020 December 14, 2020 This orders that effective January 1, 2020 the COVID-19 (limits on Actions and Proceedings) Regulations section 4 is amended and adds section 5 (Additional exemption from civil liability – Emergency Program Act)   Click here
655/2020 292/2020 Decemer 21, 2020 This order repeals item 27 [COVID-19 (Limitation Periods in Court Proceedings) Regulation] of Schedule 2 as of March 25, 2021; and repeals section 2 and 3 of Appendix 2 of BC Reg. 199/2020 [COVID-19 (Limitation Periods in Court Proceedings) Regulation]   Click here
659/2020 293/2020 December 21, 2020 This order repeals items 2 [Electronic Attendance at Corporate Meetings (COVID-19) Order] and 3 [Electronic Attendance at Credit Union Meetings (COVID-19) Order] of Schedule 1 as of July 10, 2021   Click here
698/2020 301/2020 December 22, 2020 This order amends Schedule 2 of the Act by adding item 23.7 – Food Delivery Services (COVID-19) Order, which will be repealed 90 days from when the state of emergency is cancelled/expires.    Click here
004/2021 1/2021 Janaury 8, 2021 This order repeals item 23.5 (Food and Liquor Premises, Gatherings and Events (COVID-19) Order No. 2) and 23.6 (Use of Face Coverings in Indoor Public Spaces (COVID-19) Order) of Section 2 of the Act.   Click here
061/2021 25/2021 February 8, 2021 This order amends Schedule 1 by adding item 7 [COVID-19 (Provincial Court Proceedings) Regulation] which will be repealed effective July 10, 2021.  

Click here

081/2021 32/2021 February 16, 2021 This order repeals item 1 [Electronic Attendance at Strata Property Meetings (COVID-19) Order]  in Schedule 1 on July 10, 2021.   Click here
083/2021 33/2021 February 16, 2021 This order repeals items 1 [Bylaw Enforcement Officer (COVID-19) Order] and 5 [Provincial Compliance Officer (COVID-19) Order] in Schedule 2 effective July 10, 2021.   Click here
086/2021 34/2021 February 16, 2021 This order repeals items 16 [Local Government Finance (COVID-19) Order] and 21 in Schedule 2 [Local Government Meetings and Bylaw Process (COVID-19) Order No. 3] effective July 10, 2021.   Click here
192/2021 94/2021 March 29, 2021 This order amends Schedule 2 by adding item 30 [COVID-19 (Income Tax Act) Regulation]   Click here
247/2021 107/2021 April 19, 2021 This order amends Schedule 2 by adding item 31 [COVID-19 (South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Act) Regulation]   Click here

 

Additional Resources

February 3, 2021 Notice to Lawyers: Suspension of Limitation Periods – your questions answered
The Law Society's COVID-19 response: Information and FAQs

 

This web-page was developed and is shared by the Lawyers Indemnity Fund as educational material. It is not intended to constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon for those purposes.