Covid-19: B.C. to End Suspension of Time Limits for Commencing Legal Proceedings on March 25, 2021

On March 26, 2020, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General took the exceptional step of suspending limitation periods to commence court proceedings in British Columbia. A previous post about this order, and the effect of the order on estate matters, can be found here: https://www.bcestatelitigation.ca/wills-variation/covid-19-b-c-suspends-time-limits-for-commencing-legal-proceedings/

The provincial government has now announced that they are lifting the suspension, and that limitation periods will resume running on March 25, 2021 (one year after the suspension was put in place).

My colleagues Brian Cheng and Taahaa Patel, articled student discuss the end of the suspension of time limits for commencing legal proceedings in B.C. here: https://owenbird.com/the-limitation-period-suspension-ends-on-march-25-2021/

The key point is this: while the suspension was in effect, any running of a limitation period was paused. When the suspension is lifted, the limitation period will resume running.

The Law Society of British Columbia has published helpful guidelines (with examples) which can be found here: https://www.lawsociety.bc.ca/about-us/covid-19-response/guidelines-for-calculating-bc-limitation-periods/

In my previous post, I noted that executors should consider the effect of the suspension (and now the end of the suspension) on estate administration matters, most notably distribution of estate assets to beneficiaries. Beneficiaries (or other potential claimants) should similarly be aware of the lifting of the suspension, so that they do not miss a deadline to bring a claim.

The Wills, Estates and Succession Act [SBC 2009] Chapter 13 provides that the personal representative of a deceased person must not distribute the estate of the deceased person within 210 days following the date of the grant of probate or administration, absent a court order or the consent of the beneficiaries.  This is so that potential claimants can bring claims before estate assets have been distributed, some of which must brought within 180 days of the issuance of the grant (most notably wills variation claims).  I warned that executors should obtain advice before distributing assets even after 210 days, if the 180 day deadlines have been suspended. Once the suspension is lifted, the 180 day and 210 day periods will resume running (or start running, if the period would have started during the suspension).