FINDING THE SOLUTION
FINDING THE SOLUTION
December 10, 2020 Litigation and Conflict Resolution
Since March 15, 2020, the time limits for civil proceedings and the periods for extinctive prescription and forfeiture in civil matters have been temporarily suspended due to the state of emergency related to COVID-19.
On July 13, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Québec and the Chief Justice of Québec announced the lifting of the suspension of time limits as of September 1, 2020, which came into force following the adoption of Order No. 2020-4303 by the Chief Justice of Québec and the Minister of Justice on August 31, 2020.
The suspension of the time limits lasted 170 days (5 months and 17 days).
Following this announcement, it is essential to calculate the new applicable time limits.
This post aims to provide an overview of the impact of the implementation and lifting of the suspension of time limits for civil proceedings.
To ensure an accurate calculation, we need to consider first when the time limit expired: during the suspension period (from March 15 to August 31, 2020, inclusively) or after that period (from September 1, 2020).
We must also consider when the time limit started: during the suspension period (from March 15 to August 31, 2020) or after that period (from September 1, 2020).
The periods for extinctive prescription and forfeiture that had not fully elapsed before March 15, 2020, started to run again on September 1, 2020 (remaining days to the time limits).
For example, let’s look at a time limit for prescription that would have elapsed on March 20, 2020:
As for time limits that would have started during the suspension period, these will only start running on September 1, 2020.
For example, if an originating application was served on June 30, 2020:
As another example, if a judgment subject to a 30-day appeal period was rendered on August 2, 2020, then the 30-day appeal period will begin on September 2, 2020 (since September 1 is not counted) and end on October 1, 2020.
Order 2020-4303 also provides for a 45-day extension in some cases, such as for:
However, as the Ministry of Justice stated, the 45-day extension period does not apply:
It should be noted that this automatic extension will not apply in the event that a court has decided otherwise, which is the case if a specific time limit has been set in a judgment.
The suspension of time limits will impact the time limits and dates for having a case ready and registering it for trial and judgment.
For example, the computing of the time limits in an originating application served on March 20, 2020, i.e., during the suspension period:
Any time limit set in the case protocol that started before March 15, 2020, and that had not fully elapsed, will start to run again on September 1, 2020:
For a time limit to have a case ready for which an originating application was served before March 15, 2020, where the parties have not failed to comply with the time limits provided for in the case protocol before March 15, 2020:
For a time limit to have a case ready for which an originating application was served between March 15 and August 31, 2020, inclusively, and where the parties did not file the case protocol, the time limit starts running on September 1, 2020:
It is important to specify that no steps are required to obtain/take advantage of these extensions.
In addition to the time limits for civil proceedings, the suspension also applies to time limits for prescription covered by the Civil Code of Québec, which means that 170 days must be added to the initial date of the end of a prescription, provided that it started to run before March 15, 2020. For example, a 3-year prescription that would have expired on October 31, 2020 (and began on October 31, 2017) will now expire on April 19, 2021, i.e., 170 days later. If the event marking the start of the prescription occurred between March 15, 2020, and August 31, 2020, the prescription will start running on September 2, 2020 (since the first day, September 1, 2020, is not counted under art. 83 C.C.P.).
It is also important to keep in mind the impact of this suspension period on other time limits, such as those relating to legal hypothecs in construction, including that of art. 2727 C.C.Q., which provides for the extinction of a legal hypothec in construction that has not been preserved, e.g., by the publication of a prior notice of exercise of hypothecary rights within six months after the work has been completed.
Such a time limit, as well as time limits for publishing a notice of legal hypothec in construction in the land register, constitute time limits for forfeiture and are subject to the 170-day suspension applicable under the decree and order, provided, of course, that the time limit or period began before March 15, 2020, or between that date and August 31, 2020.
It is therefore important to keep in mind the following:
This bulletin provides general comments on recent developments in the law. It does not constitute and should not viewed as legal advice. No legal action should be taken on the basis of the information contained herein.Back to the list of publications - Litigation and Conflict Resolution