To protect health and safety and help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has suspended all regular operations effective March 17, 2020 and until further notice.
In a Notice to the Profession, the Public and the Media Regarding Civil and Family Proceedings released on March 15, 2020, the court provided the following important guidelines that will have consequences on parties approaching statutory limitation periods in Ontario during this unprecedented pandemic:
- Ontario courthouses will currently remain open. Regular filings that are not urgent may continue to occur at courthouses. In the event that it becomes impossible to file at the courthouse, or the courthouse is believed to be unsafe, parties can expect the court to grant extensions of time once the court’s normal operations resume. These extensions, however, do not apply to statutory limitation periods.
- In the event that the courthouses are closed, or are inaccessible due to safety concerns, and to preserve limitation periods under the Limitations Act, 2002, SO 2002, c 24, Sch B, “parties should file Claims or Statements of Claims through the Small Claims Court online filing service, or the Civil Claims Online Portal for Superior Court civil matters.”
Moving forward, counsel should be familiar with these online services and are encouraged to issue claims electronically or to consider entering into tolling agreements where appropriate.