When the COVID-19 pandemic hit us all back in March 2020, it felt like time stood still.
For quite a few months.
Well, when it comes to the period of time you can take to bring a lawsuit (referred to as the limitation period), COVID-19 literally stopped time for around six months.
Normally, a claim can be brought within two years of the date of the loss, or alternatively, when such loss was discovered. In the employment context, if you were dismissed from your job for example, then the clock will likely start ticking from the date of dismissal.
Given the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ontario government introduced a regulation which served to stop the limitation periods from running.
Recently, the Ontario Court of Justice released a decision holding that the suspension of limitation periods pursuant to the regulation extended the applicable limitation periods by approximately six months.
The Court in McAuley v Canada Post Corporation stated:
the effect of Reg. 73/20 was to extend any running limitation period by 183 days. In other words, all limitation periods subject to the regulation were extended by roughly six months… It appears clear to me that any limitation period that otherwise would have run between March 16, 2020 and September 14, 2020 was suspended during that period. Those days do not get counted in the calculation of the limitation period.” (paras 42-43)
What Does the Suspension of Limitation Periods Mean for You?
Employees May Have More Time To File a Claim
If you are an employee and would like to pursue a claim against your employer, know that the regular two year limitation may not be applicable to your situation and you may have some more time. However, you should still seek legal advice in a timely manner to ensure that your claim is not time-barred. Otherwise, you could lose your right to sue.
Employers May Have a Limitations Defence
If you are an employer faced with a legal action, you may have a limitations defence. If the plaintiff runs out of time, they won’t have a leg to stand on.