Suspension of Limitations Period and Court Timelines in Ontario

Share this:

This lecture explains the implications of the Emergency Order (issued by Ontario government) on various existing or intended legal processes.

Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act:

Notice to Profession, Public March 15, 2020:

Notice to Profession, Public April 2, 2020:

This lecture is taught by Amer Mushtaq, LL.B., M. Engineering , B.Sc. (Hons.), who is the Principal and Founder of Formative LLP.   Through his YouTube channel, YouCounsel, Amer shares practical advice from his years of legal experience to help anyone access justice and achieve their goals.  Subscribe today to learn more.


Show Notes:


Lecture Slides:

Welcome to YouCounsel.

As you may know, the Ontario government has passed an emergency order under Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act This is the Act the court does have power to pass that kind of order.  What are the implications of that emergency order on court proceedings on civil matters, criminal matters?  We will discuss that in today’s lecture.

We begin with our usual disclaimer that this lecture is not legal advice.  If you have any specific questions you should contact a lawyer or a paralegal, Law Society of Ontario or the Ontario Courts administration for further information.

We’ll talk about the implications of the emergency order on limitations period. We will talk about its implications on various timelines for court matters or tribunal matters. We will talk about the discretion of the court or tribunal in these matters.  Finally, we will talk about Notice to Profession that has been issued by the Ontario Courts.

Let’s talk about limitations period.  The emergency order suspended all the limitations period and the start date is retroactive from March 16th, 2020. As of March 16th 2020 all limitations period are suspended.  How do you figure out the limitation period for your matter? This is something we’ll explain. Let’s assume that the suspension will end on June 14th 2020. I have selected that date randomly but it’s 90 days under the statute that I just showed you.  The government has the power to have the emergency for 90 days – up to 90 days.  If the government would like to extend that emergency order then it has the power to extend it. Or, the government can end the emergency sooner than 90 days. But let’s assume that for the purposes of today’s discussion let’s assume that the extension will run for the full 90 days. We know that for civil proceedings in Ontario you have generally 2 years to commence your civil action from the time that the injury occurred. Now in our 1st example, let’s assume that your original limitations period was going to expire on a date that was after the suspension ended – the original date was after June 14th 2020.

How do you calculate now the new limitations period based on the suspension? You take the original expiry date and then you simply add 90 days, which is the suspension time to it and that will give you the new expiry date. Take an example – where the original limitation period was going to expire on July 31st 2020 – what will be the new expiry date – it will be approximately October 30th 2020. You add 90 days to July 31st and you get the new expiry date based on the suspension.

Let’s take another example.  In this example the limitation period was originally going to expire during the suspension period time. It was going to fall on a timeline that is between March 16th 2020 and in our example June 14th 2020. How do you calculate the new limitations period?  Essentially, you take the suspension end date which is June 14th 2020 and then you add the remaining limitation days during the suspension that you previously had.

Let’s explain that by an example, with an expiry date as April 15th 2020. What will be the new expiry date? You have June 15th when the suspension ends.  Or, assuming, we’re assuming that it ends and then you add 30 days from June 15th. How do we get these 30 days that’s the timeline, that’s a number of days between March 16th when the suspension began and April 15th that was your original expiry date.  You had 30 days that are suspended.  You add those 30 days to June 15th and you get the new expiry date of July 15th 2020.

The same principles apply on the timelines in court proceedings.  Let’s take that by an example and to explain this.  Let’s say that you were served with a statement of claim and originally your statement of defense was due on March 30th 2020. We know that the timelines are suspended as of March 16th so what will be your new timeline for the statement of defense. The deadline will be June 14th is the expiry date for the suspension and then you add 15 days to it. 15 days is the time period between March 16th and March 30th. 15 days and then you get the new timeline for your statement of defense which will be June 29th 2020. These timelines will apply to either tribunal proceedings or court proceedings criminal matters, civil matter, family law matter, all of these are covered.

Let’s talk about court’s discretion. The emergency order indicates that a court or tribunal has the power to order a party to comply with a timeline or a time limit or a time table. Despite the suspension the court does have the power to enforce certain timelines.  This may happen in cases that are urgent matters and the court believes that the matter cannot wait till the end of the suspension and in that case the court will order. If you are part of that proceeding, then the lack of suspension or the cancellation of suspension for your specific matter will be by the order of a court. If you are involved in a matter which is an urgent matter and you want the other party to comply with the time line then, you will have to ask the court to give you an order and then you serve that order on that party to make sure that they comply with the court order.

Let’s talk about Notice To Profession. The courts have issued two notices to profession and public. What are these notices? These are courts’ instructions basically in terms of how they are managing different affairs in the court system. The 1st. Notice To Profession and Public was issued on March 15th – which was prior to the emergency order.  In that order – in that Notice the court had indicated that urgent matters were going to continue to proceed but all other matters, all other hearings were suspended.  I have provided the link for the Notice to Profession which was issued on March 15th.  Here is the Notice of Profession and the link is available.  You can see that the court had suspended all the hearings during the suspension time but it talks about the procedure to bring urgent matters before the court.

The 2nd Notice was issued in April 2nd 2020.  It allowed again for urgent matters to proceed.  Also the courts indicated that certain selective matters will continue to proceed or will be allowed to proceed.  That link is also available.  Here is the Notice and it applies to different regions.  Let’s look at the one in Toronto.  You will see different criminal matters, family matters, are all indicated here, civil matters are indicated and then you will see that selected pretrial conferences will proceed certain motions, certain applications will proceed. By all means check on these Notices to see whether your specific matter can proceed under the circumstances or not.

Hopefully this gives you an understanding of how various court matters have been suspended and if you are involved in a court proceeding or you intend to commence a court proceeding, what will be the implications on various timelines in your case

Thank-you for watching.

Share this:

Comments are closed.