Lifting of time limits for Civil and Penal proceedings


FAQ on the lifting of the suspension of time limits for civil and penal proceedings

Notice

Please note that adaptations must be made to this section with respect to certain time limits for housing, the suspension of which was lifted on July 6, 2020, or, under certain circumstances, on July 20, 2020. Additionally, special rules apply to time limits set out in acts adopted by the Parliament of Canada. They are set out in the Time Limits and Other Periods Act (COVID-19), enacted by Part 3 of An Act respecting further COVID-19 measures (S.C. 2020, ch. 11). For more information on this topic, visit the site Web du gouvernement du Canada website or seek legal counsel.

See the Order 2020-4303 of the Chief Justice of Québec and the Minister of Justice dated 31 August 2020


1.   When will the suspension of time limits for civil and penal proceedings be lifted?

The Chief Justice of Québec and the Minister of Justice have announced that the suspension of time limits for civil and penal proceedings will be lifted on September 1, 2020.

In civil matters, time limits to file a case protocol and to have a case ready, as well as time limits provided for in case protocols, are extended by 45 days, subject to exceptions.

2.   What does the lifting of the suspension of time limits for civil and penal proceedings mean?

The lifting of the suspension of time limits for civil and penal proceedings means that time limits granted by law to act (for example to bring an action in court or contest a pleading) will start to run again on September 1, 2020. The suspension does not cancel time already elapsed. Days elapsed before a time limit was suspended still count, and the time limit starts to run again on September 1, 2020, from where it left off (see examples in questions 5, 6 and 13).

Additionally, any time limit that would normally have started running during the suspension will start running on September 1, 2020.

If you must act within a time limit prescribed by law, we recommend acting promptly to reduce the risk of forgetting.

To check if the lifting of the suspension of time limits applies to your situation, please consult legal counsel.

CIVIL MATTERS FAQ

3.   When did the suspension of time limits start and what time limits does it cover?

The suspension of certain time limits for civil proceedings began on March 15, 2020, pursuant to order 2020-4251 issued by the former Chief Justice of Québec and the former Minister of Justice. It covers time limits for extinctive prescription, forfeiture and civil proceedings.

However, it is important to note that the suspension of time limits for civil proceedings did not apply to cases deemed urgent by the courts.

To check if the suspension of time limits applies to your situation, please consult legal counsel.

4.   How long will the suspension of time limits have lasted?

The suspension of time limits for extinctive prescription, forfeiture and civil proceedings will have lasted 170 days, or 5 months and 17 days.

5.   How should time limits for civil proceedings be calculated after the suspension is lifted?

Time limits are calculated in accordance with article 83 of the Code of Civil Procedure (chapter C 25.01, hereafter “C.C.P.”). If the time limit is expressed in days, the day that marks the start is not counted but the terminal day is.

A time limit that had not fully elapsed on March 15, 2020, should be calculated up to March 14, 2020, and then from September 1, 2020, inclusively. For example, for a time limit of 20 days that started on March 4, 2020, and of which 10 days had elapsed on March 14, 2020, the remaining 10 days start to run again on September 1, 2020, inclusively. The time limit thus expires on September 10, 2020.

Time limits that started during the suspension will start running on September 1, 2020. For example, for a time limit of 20 days that started on June 10, 2020, the whole time limit will be calculated as of September 1, 2020, not counting the first day. The time limit thus expires on September 21, 2020.

If a time limit expires on a Saturday, Sunday or a holiday, it is extended until the next working day. For example, a time limit expiring on Saturday, September 5, Sunday, September 6 or Monday, September 7, 2020, which is a holiday, will be extended until the next working day, namely Tuesday, September 8, 2020.

6.   How should time limits for extinctive prescription and forfeiture be calculated after the suspension is lifted?

The suspension of time limits for extinctive prescription and forfeiture in civil proceedings will have lasted 170 days, or 5 months and 17 days, from March 15, 2020, to August 31, 2020, inclusively.

To calculate a time limit that was set to expire after September 1, 2020, the total length of the suspension must be added to the original expiration date.

A time limit that had not fully elapsed on March 15, 2020, but that was going to expire before September 1, 2020, will start running again on September 1, 2020, for the time remaining on March 15 inclusively. 

For example, a time limit of 3 years with 10 days left on March 15, 2020, is suspended and starts to run again on September 1, 2020, inclusively, for the remaining 10 days. It thus expires on September 10, 2020.

7.   In what cases does the 45-day extension apply?

This measure applies to all civil matters, including family and youth protection, heard before courts of first instance, i.e. the Court of Québec and the Superior Court.

The measure extends by 45 days the statutory time limits to file a case protocol and to have a case ready, as well as time limits provided for in case protocols, unless otherwise decided by the court.

Specifically, this measure applies:  

  • to time limits provided for in article 149 C.C.P. for filing a case protocol with the court office in matters where the originating application was filed with the court office before September 1, 2020;
  • to time limits provided for in a case protocol filed with the court office before September 1, 2020;
  • to time limits to have a case ready in matters where the originating application was filed with the court office before September 1, 2020;
  • The measure does not apply:
  • if the parties failed before March 15, 2020, to comply with the time limits provided for by this measure;
  • to time limits provided for in a case protocol filed on or after September 1, 2020;
  • to a proposed protocol.

8.   How should the 45-day extension be calculated?

Time limits that started running before March 15, 2020

Time limits that started running before March 15, 2020, and had not fully elapsed on this date, will start to run again on September 1, 2020. Thus, they will have stopped running for a total of 215 days, i.e. the entirety of the suspension period (170 days) plus the additional 45 days.

For example, for a time limit of 6 months to have a case ready that started running on March 1, 2020, and that was originally set to expire on September 1, 2020, the total length of the suspension period (170 days) plus the additional 45 days must be added to the original expiration date. The time limit to have the case ready would therefore now expire on April 4, 2021.

Time limits that started running on or after March 15, 2020

Time limits that would have started running during the suspension period will start running on September 1, 2020, and are further extended by 45 days.

For example, for an originating application served between March 15, 2020, and August 31, 2020, the 45-day time limit to file the case protocol having been suspended, the time limit starts running on September 1, 2020, and is further extended by 45 days. The parties therefore have until November 30, 2020, to file the case protocol.

Also, for a time limit of 6 months to have a case ready where the originating application was served between March 15, 2020, and August 31, 2020, inclusively (where the parties did not file the case protocol), the time limit starts running on September 1, 2020. Taking into account the additional 45 days, the time limit to have the case ready would expire on April 15, 2021.

9.   Why are certain time limits set out in the Code of Civil Procedure extended by 45 days and how can the parties avail themselves of the extension?

This measure aims to give parties and lawyers some flexibility with procedural steps as the courts resume their regular activities. 
The extra 45 days will be added automatically where applicable and no special action is required. This saves parties from having to ask the court for this extension.

10.   When can I get a certificate of no appeal for a judgment delivered by the court?

A certificate of no appeal serves, among other things, to attest that a judgment was rendered res judicata, in other words, that it cannot be appealed or that the time limit for appeal has expired without it having been appealed.

As of September 1, 2020, the certificate of no appeal can be issued as follows:

  • For a judgment for which the time limit for appeal fully expired before March 15, 2020, when the suspension of time limits for civil proceedings started: the certificate of no appeal can be issued;
  • For a judgment rendered before March 15, 2020, and for which the time limit for appeal had not fully expired by that date: the certificate can be issued when the days remaining in the time limit for appeal have elapsed, taking into account the length of the suspension period;
  • For a judgment rendered after March 15, 2020, but for which the matter was taken under advisement before this date: the certificate can be issued when the time limit for appeal has fully expired, which time limit starts running on September 1, 2020;
  • For a judgment rendered in a matter deemed urgent by a court during the suspension of time limits for proceedings (cases for which the suspension of time limits does not apply): the certificate can be issued as soon as the time limit for appeal has fully expired;
  • For a judgment rendered between March 15, 2020, and August 31, 2020, in a non-urgent matter: the certificate can be issued when the time limit for appeal has fully expired, which time limit starts running on September 1, 2020;
  • For a judgment rendered on or after September 1, 2020: the certificate can be issued when the time limit for appeal has fully expired.


PENAL MATTERS FAQ

11.   When did the suspension of time limits start and what time limits does it cover?

The suspension of certain time limits for penal proceedings began on March 23, 2020, pursuant to order 2020-009 issued by the former Minister of Health and Social Services. The following time limits were suspended:

  • to retain the thing seized or the proceeds of the sale thereof and to obtain an extension of the retention period (articles 132 and 133 of the Code of Penal Procedure, chapter C-25.1, hereinafter “C.P.P.”);
  • to transmit a plea of guilty or not guilty after service of a statement of offence (article 160 C.P.P.);
  • to file an application for revocation of a judgment rendered by default (article 252 C.P.P.);
  • to bring an appeal before the Superior Court (article 271 C.P.P.);
  • to file a written appearance in the Superior Court (article 274 C.P.P.);
  • to apply for an appeal by way of a new hearing (article 282 C.P.P.);
  • to apply for leave to appeal before the Court of Appeal (article 296 C.P.P.);
  • to file a written appearance in the Court of Appeal (article 303 C.P.P.);
  • to file a factum at the office of the Court of Appeal together with proof of its service (articles 304 and 305 C.P.P.);
  • to pay a sum due to the collector (article 322 C.P.P.);
  • to carry out compensatory work (article 338 C.P.P.);
  • to retain the thing seized or the proceeds of the sale thereof and to obtain an extension of the retention period (sections 40.4 and 40.7 of the Tax Administration Act, chapter A-6.002).

However, it is important to note that the suspension of time limits for proceedings did not apply to cases deemed urgent by the courts.

To check if the suspension of time limits applies to your situation, please consult legal counsel.

12.   How long will the suspension of time limits have lasted?

The suspension of time limits for penal proceedings will have lasted 162 days, or 5 months and 9 days.

13.   How should the time limit be calculated after the suspension is lifted?

The time limit is calculated in accordance with article 17 C.P.P. The day which marks the start of the period is not counted but, except in the case of clear days, the terminal day is counted.
Time limits that started during the suspension will start running on September 1, 2020. For example, a time limit of 10 days that started on June 8, 2020, expires 10 days from September 1, 2020, namely on September 11, 2020.

A time limit that had not fully expired on March 23, 2020, should be calculated from its start date up to March 22, 2020, and then from September 1, 2020, inclusively. For example, for a time limit of 30 days that started on March 17, 2020, and of which 5 days have elapsed on March 22, 2020, the remaining 25 days start to run again on September 1, 2020, inclusively. The time limit thus expires on September 25, 2020.

If a time limit expires on a Saturday, Sunday or a holiday, it is extended until the next working day. For example, a time limit expiring on Saturday, September 5, Sunday, September 6 or Monday, September 7, 2020, which is a holiday, will be extended until the next working day, namely Tuesday, September 8, 2020.

What about the time limits for administrative proceedings?

Administrative courts are gradually resuming their activities since June 1, 2020.

For more information, we invite you to consult their website or to communicate directly with them:

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