Suspension of limitation periods to commence court proceedings ends March 25

THE B.C. Government will end its temporary suspension of limitation periods to commence court proceedings in British Columbia on March 25, 2021.

Limitation periods for commencing a new civil or family action or appeal were first suspended on March 26, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the request of the attorney general, the minister of public safety and solicitor general made the order under the Emergency Program Act to protect public health and in recognition that, during the pandemic, British Columbians involved in legal or administrative proceedings may have been unable to take the steps required by legislation.

The decision to lift the suspension recognizes, like many other aspects of the daily lives of British Columbians, the justice system has adapted to function during the pandemic. Further, establishing a fixed end to the suspension creates certainty and provides sufficient advance notice for lawyers and litigants to prepare to commence actions and appeals. Lawyers and litigants are encouraged to be proactive and act early, rather than waiting until the end date.

Persons, tribunals and other bodies with a statutory power of decision will continue to have a temporary discretionary power to waive, suspend or extend mandatory time periods relating to the exercise of that power, but this does not extend to courts.

The decision to lift the order was made following extensive consultations with the chief judge and justices, as well as the Law Society of British Columbia, the British Columbia branch of the Canadian Bar Association and the Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia, the Ministry of Attorney General said.