Interior of a Surrey court room. (Cliff MacArthur/provincialcourt.bc.ca)

Interior of a Surrey court room. (Cliff MacArthur/provincialcourt.bc.ca)

Legal time limitations on civil court proceedings in B.C. suspended due to COVID-19

Order applies during the current state of emergency and includes any extension

The provincial government has suspended legal time limitations connected to civil court proceedings due to COVID-19.

“Limitation periods to commence court proceedings in British Columbia have been suspended, and statutory decision-makers have been provided discretion to waive, suspend or extend time periods related to their powers,” the Ministry of Attorney General said in a press release Friday.

“At the request of the Attorney General, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General has made the order under the Emergency Program Act to protect public health and to recognize that during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, British Columbians involved in legal or administrative proceedings may be unable to take steps required by legislation.”

The order means that mandatory limitation periods, and other mandatory time periods otherwise in place that are established in laws are suspended. This applies civil or family actions, proceedings, claims or appeals that should have been commenced in the provincial court, Supreme Court or Court of Appeal.

“The order applies during the current state of emergency, including any extension of the state of emergency.”

As for criminal matters, the regular court operations have been suspended but as of March 25, urgent matters are proceeding in “hub” courts.

All criminal matters in the Fraser Region are being dealt with in Surrey, the Interior Region in Kelowna, for the Northern Region in Prince George, Vancouver at 222 Main Street, and on Vancouver Island in Victoria.

A Victoria defence lawyer has expressed concern about the court closures on the rights of accused to safe confinement and a fair trial.

• READ MORE: Court shutdown could threaten safe confinement and fair trials: B.C. defence lawyer

• READ MORE: COVID-19: B.C. supreme and provincial courts suspend regular operations


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