On March 31, 2020, I published a blog post on the Ontario government’s decision to suspend limitation periods and procedural deadlines for the duration of the state of emergency. In that post, I noted that the suspension was expected to last until June 14, 2020 if not renewed by the province before that date. I also noted that the suspension of timelines under the Rules of Civil Procedure or the Rules of the Small Claims Court are subject to the discretion of the court or tribunal overseeing the proceeding.
As the Covid-19 situation continues to evolve rapidly, on June 5, 2020 the province issued twin regulations amending the original Order in Council to provide further clarity on the suspension of limitation periods. The effects of these are as follows:
- The suspension of limitation periods and procedural deadlines is now extended to September 11, 2020;
- The discretion of a court or tribunal with respect to procedural timelines may be exercised by:
- the person(s) who has jurisdiction to make orders in the proceeding;
- the Chief Justice of Ontario, for all proceedings before the Court of Appeal;
- the Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Justice, for all proceedings before that court;
- the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice, for all proceedings before that court; or
- the chair of a tribunal, for all proceedings before that tribunal.
- The suspension of limitation periods and procedural deadlines no longer applies to Part V of the Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act, 1996 with respect to any deadlines for enforcement of child support or spousal support.
This update from the province is helpful as it removes the uncertainty created by the original Order, which made the suspension dependent on the duration of the state of emergency in Ontario. However, I maintain my earlier comment that litigants should still adhere to the original limitation dates to avoid any confusion and the possibility of future litigation over whether they commenced their claims on time.
Our firm remains committed to assisting our clients in navigating these tumultuous times. Please consult one of our lawyers if you think you may have a claim that might be affected by this suspension.