Time Limits and Other Periods Act (COVID-19)

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Further to our blog post dated May 25, 2020, federal legislation providing for a COVID-19 related temporary suspension of federal limitation periods and procedural time limits in civil litigation has now been enacted — Bill C-20: An Act respecting further COVID-19 measures obtained Royal Assent and enacted the Time Limits and Other Periods Act (COVID-19) (the “Act”) on July 27, 2020.

Under the Act, time limits established by federal legislation for starting or taking steps in a civil proceeding are suspended for a maximum period of six months, as of March 13, 2020 and ending on September 13, 2020 or on an earlier date fixed by order of the Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Minister of Justice.

The Act also allows ministers to make temporary orders suspending or extending time limits in specified federal legislation, such as the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, RSC 1985, c B-3 and the Canada Business Corporations Act, RSC, 1985, for no more than six months, and to give such suspensions or extensions retroactive effect to March 13, 2020. These orders, however, cannot have effect beyond December 31, 2020 and cannot be made after September 30, 2020.

Finally, the Act contains certain transparency and parliamentary oversight clauses, and a safeguard expressly requiring the statute “to be interpreted in a manner that provides certainty in relation to proceedings and that respects the rule of law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

A federal government summary and explanation of this legislation can be found here.