Sunday, December 27, 2020

Suspension of Limitation Periods in British Columbia Ends March 25, 2021

The British Columbia Government suspended limitation periods effective March 25, 2020. A limitation period sets the time limit in which someone may file a lawsuit. Because of Covid-19, the B.C. Government suspended the limitation periods. So for example, if a two-year limitation period would have expired on say May 19, 2020, the limitation period did not expire, but has been extended until after the suspension is lifted. 

Now, it will begin to run again after March 25, 2021.

I am pleased to see that the suspension is ending. I never understood the rationale. Although Covid-19 has had a significant impact on the court system, causing delays in hearings, it did not significantly affect the ability to file claims in court. Limitation periods set the time limits for filing claims, rather than for having them heard in court. 

The suspension of limitation periods have in some cases caused delays in distributing estates, mainly because someone wishing to make a wills variation claim has 180 days from the date of probate to do so. The Wills, Estates and Succession Act provides for a 210-day waiting period, because someone making a claim has another 30 days to serve the personal representative with the Notice of Civil Claim. In some cases, the personal representative can get consents to an early distribution from those who are entitled to apply to vary a will. but in other cases, that is not feasible, either because they won't sign a consent or can't because they are minors.  In those cases, personal representatives need to wait for the 210 days to expire, but during the suspension, the limitation period of 180 days continues until after the suspension is lifted. Funds held in estates have been tied up at a time when the economy needs funds to flow. 

No comments: