Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Suspension of Limitation Periods in British Columbia During COVID-19 Emergency

The Provincial Government in British Columbia has suspended most limitation periods during the COVID-19 state of emergency in British Columbia from March 18, 2020 for the duration of the state of emergency. This means that in some cases, persons wishing to file claims will have more time to do so.

As I read the Ministerial Order, the suspension will apply to section 61 of the Wills, Estates and Succession Act, which requires that a person who makes a claim to vary a will, must file the claim in court within 180 days of the representation grant. Although this will provide additional time for those who might otherwise have difficulty filing a claim in the current crisis, the downside is that it will also delay the distribution of some estates.

It should be noted that the suspension will not affect those claims for which the limitation period had already expired before March 18, 2020.

The Order in place at the time I am writing is as follows:

1 (1) This order applies during the period that starts on the date this order is made and ends on the date on which the last extension of the declaration of a state of emergency made March 18, 2020 under section 9 (1) of the Emergency Program Act expires or is cancelled. 
(2) This order replaces the Limitation Periods (COVID-19) Order made by MO  86/2020. 
Limitation periods in court proceedings 
2 (1) Subject to subsection (2), 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 is suspended. 
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to a mandatory limitation period and any other mandatory time period established under the following enactments:
(a) the Builders Lien Act;
(b) Division 5 [Builders Liens and Other Charges] of Part 5 [Property] of the Strata Property Act. 
Statutory decisions  
3 A person, tribunal or other body that has a statutory power of decision may waive, suspend or extend a mandatory time period relating to the exercise of that power. 

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