Limitation Periods and Procedural Time Periods suspended to September.
If you are involved in or contemplating commencing a legal proceeding, you should know that there are two types of deadlines you must adhere to:
- There are deadlines to start a proceeding, which are known as limitation periods.
The limitation periods are governed by the Limitations Act
, (unless the proceeding falls under another statutory limitation period), which mandates that a legal proceeding must be commenced within two years from the date of discovering of a cause of action.
- There are also procedural deadlines that are applicable during the course of a legal proceeding.
Depending on the type of your legal proceeding, these deadlines are dictated by either the Rules of Civil Procedure, Family Law Rules
or the Rules of the Small Claims
Due to the historic and unprecedented effect of COVID-19, Ontario suspended limitation and procedural time periods on March 20, 2020 retroactive to March 16, 2020. The suspension was to be in effect until the state of emergency was lifted.
However, on June 5, 2020, the Province uncoupled the duration of the suspension from the state of emergency. Now, regardless of when the state of emergency is lifted, most (but not all) of the limitation and procedural time periods are suspended to September 11, 2020.
This means that the typical limitation and procedural deadlines to commence a proceeding, serve pleadings, and complete a step in a proceeding have been extended until September 11, 2020.
Before your rely on this suspension, it is important to make sure that the limitation and procedural time periods governing your proceeding is in fact suspended.
In addition, notwithstanding this suspension, the Court, tribunal or decision-maker responsible for the legal proceeding has the discretion to lift the suspension in a particular case at any time to keep the proceeding moving.
Now that the Courts and legal profession have had time to adapt to an altered way of handling legal proceedings (although more work needs to be and is being done), more matters can and have proceeded virtually.
In light of the Court’s discretion to lift the suspension and the Court’s ability to conduct a proceeding virtually, litigants should still adhere to the limitation and procedural time periods, regardless of the suspension, to avoid missing a notice that the suspension has been lifted.
If you are unsure about a limitation period, we encourage you to seek legal advice.
Notices and Orders in relation to suspensions and other Court operations due to COVID-19 can be accessed here: https://www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/notices-and-orders-covid-19/