Federal limitation periods extended
The federal government has passed legislation suspending federal limitation periods from March 13, 2020 to September 13, 2020, or any earlier day fixed by order of the Governor in Council made on the recommendation of the Minister of Justice. The Time Limits and Other Periods Act (COVID-19) was introduced as a Schedule to An Act Respecting COVID-19 Measures. The legislation received Royal Assent on July 27, 2020.
The Time Limits and Other Periods Act (COVID-19) includes a schedule setting out which Acts or Regulations are affected. The legislation allows:
- courts to vary the suspension within certain limits and take measures regarding the effects of a failure to meet a suspended time limit;
- the Governor in Council to lift such suspensions in certain circumstances; and
- ministers, in respect of specified legislation, to suspend or extend time limits and extend other periods for no more than six months, and to give such suspensions or extensions retroactive effect to March 13, 2020.
The legislation also sets a hard cap on any further suspensions by providing that a suspension must not allow a time limit to continue past December 31, 2020.
Practice Management Tips: Consider potential impacts of suspended limitation periods
1. Check the actual suspension of limitation periods: For any federal matter, check whether the Time Limits and Other Periods Act (COVID-19) applies and whether orders made under the legislation have been made. Determine whether any suspension applies to September 13, 2020 or another date.
2. When advising clients, discuss the potential impacts of actual or potential suspension of limitation periods: As suspensions can be extended or otherwise varied by the courts, Governor in Council and ministers, when advising clients, consider both actual suspensions in place and potential changes.
3. Consider the potential impact of other limitation periods: Depending on your matter, other limitation periods may need to be considered.
- Note that contractual limitation periods continue to apply and have not been suspended by either federal legislation or Ontario’s changes.
- In Ontario, certain limitation periods and procedural deadlines are suspended. While most Ontario limitations periods have been suspended until September 11, 2020, be mindful that certain matters the suspensions have been lifted, such as matters under the Planning Act.