The emergency measures that have been taken across the provinces to address the COVID-19 crisis have significantly impacted our court systems. Here is how recent developments may affect your subrogated claims.
Postponement of Civil Hearings Except for Urgent/Emergency Matters
Most civil courts across Canada have suspended regular operations, until further notice, in order to protect the health and safety of court staff and users and to help contain the spread of COVID-19. Most courts will hear only essential and urgent matters and have provided guidance on matters currently set for hearings. Court offices must be contacted directly for specifics, and the procedural directives are in a state of flux and continually being updated.
Extension of Limitation Periods and Procedural Time Periods
The Ministry of the Attorney General has issued an Order in Council under s. 7.1 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act suspending limitation periods and procedural time periods during this present state of emergency, subject to court discretion. The suspension is retroactive to March 16, 2020, and the order is subject to renewal until the state of emergency is over.
The Order in Council can be viewed here.
The Minister of Justice and the Chief Justice of Quebec have issued Order No. 2020-4251, effective as of March 15, 2020, that suspends deadlines for extinctive prescription in civil matters until the end of the declaration of emergency (currently until March 23, 2020, but subject to extension).
The order can be viewed here.
Effective March 18, 2020, filing deadlines under the Supreme Court Civil Rules have been suspended until May 1, 2020. Statutory filing deadlines and limitation periods will continue to apply. When the court resumes regular operations, parties may request an extension of time for deadlines set out in other statutes, which the court will determine on a case-by-case basis. The court has indicated that it will not hear applications for extensions of time until regular operations resume.
Other Provinces and Territories — No Extensions Provided
In other provinces, no extensions of time or filing deadlines have been permitted as of yet. Given the impact of the state of emergency on our court systems, please anticipate the unanticipated — there may be various obstacles and delays with respect to investigating, filing, and serving new claims and other court documents. Accordingly, it is imperative that any potential subrogation matters be sent to counsel for review as soon as possible in order to ensure that your recovery rights are protected.