We wrote earlier regarding the Notice issued by the Supreme Court of British Columbia to the Profession to adjourn all civil and family matters scheduled for hearing between March 19, 2020 and May 1, 2020 and to suspend all filing deadlines under the Rules of Court of British Columbia. At the time of the previous article, other statutory filing deadlines and limitation periods continued to apply in British Columbia.
Today, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General released an order (the “Order”) under the Emergency Program Act suspending every mandatory limitation period and any other mandatory time period that is established in an enactment or law of British Columbia within which a civil or family action, proceeding, claim or appeal must be commenced in the Provincial Court, Supreme Court or Court of Appeal.
Please note that the suspension of limitation periods does not apply to cases in which administrative tribunals have jurisdiction, such as Civil Resolution Tribunal (“CRT”) and Human Rights Tribunal. However, the Order specifically gives “a person, tribunal or other body that has a statutory power of decision” the jurisdiction to waive, suspend or extend a mandatory time period relating to the exercise of such power. For instance, if your claim is within the jurisdiction of the CRT, then the limitation period is not automatically suspended under the Order. If you are late to bring the claim at the CRT, you will need to convince the CRT why it should be accepted late. The CRT will typically consider extension of times within its own procedures if a party is unable to complete a step because of COVID-19.
The Order applies during the period that starts on March 26, 2020 and ends on the date on which the declaration of a state of emergency made March 18, 2020 expires or is cancelled, or if extended, the date on which the last extension of that declaration expires or is cancelled.
The Order preserves the legal rights of persons seeking to pursue their claims, but are not able to take steps required by the legislation as a result of the pandemic and necessary public health measures.