Strata Alert: Suspension of Limitation Periods Under COVID-19 Pandemic Applies to Court Proceedings and Not the BC Civil Resolution Tribunal

Suspension of Limitation Periods Under COVID-19 Pandemic Applies to Court Proceedings and Not the BC Civil Resolution Tribunal

By Paul G. Mendes and Alex J. Chang


Paul G. Mendes, Partner                                                              Alex J. Chang, Associate
Phone:  604-685-4894                                                                  Phone:  604-685-1255
Email:                                                               Email:


The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many things, and the pace of that change makes it challenging to stay on top of this rapidly evolving situation.  Many strata corporations and strata owners were relieved to learn that the Provincial Government suspended specific limitation periods by Ministerial Order on March 26, 2020. That Ministerial Order will remain in effect until the province-wide state of emergency declared on March 18, 2020, expires or is cancelled.

A limitation period is a deadline by which a plaintiff must file a claim for a remedy in a court or a tribunal. If the plaintiff fails to file their claim before the expiry of the limitation period, the plaintiff’s claim is permanently extinguished regardless of its merits.

The Ministerial Order suspending limitation periods makes sense, given that the Supreme Court and Provincial Court operations have been suspended since March 25. But what about limitation periods and other deadlines before the BC Civil Resolution Tribunal (the “CRT”)? Unlike the Courts, the CRT remains open and continues to function.  The CRT recorded 437 disputes in March, and it has issued over 100 orders and decisions since March 26.

As it turns out, the suspension of limitation periods only applies to a proceeding, claim or appeal that “must be commenced in the Provincial Court, Supreme Court or Court of Appeal.” The suspension does not apply to tribunals like the Civil Resolution Tribunal, or any other tribunal. Instead, the Ministerial Order gives the CRT the “power of decision” to “waive, suspend or extend a mandatory time relating to the exercise of [the CRT’s] power”.

The CRT has published its position on limitation periods and statutory deadlines on its website. It states as follows:

“If you file your application for dispute resolution late because of the pandemic, explain this in your application. If you need to make a request to have a mandatory time period extended relating to an existing CRT dispute, please contact us with your Dispute Number and the reason for your request.”

It notes as well that its power to waive, suspend or extend limitation periods only lasts as long as the Provincial State of Emergency remains in place.

What this means in practical terms is that if you have a claim that falls within the jurisdiction of the CRT, you should endeavour to file your dispute before the expiry of the limitation period, or, if the limitation period has expired since March 18, 2020, obtain legal advice about applying to the CRT for an extension or filing your claim in the Supreme Court. Although we have not yet had to file a CRT dispute after the expiry of the limitation period, we have observed that the CRT is being very reasonable with other deadlines if an extension is required due to the work limitations imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.  There is no guarantee, however, that the CRT will be as flexible when it comes to waving limitation periods.


WHAT WE DO:  If you have a legal matter that needs to proceed to Court or the CRT during the pandemic, contact Paul G. Mendes, Partner at or Alex J. Chang, Associate at  Our office remains fully functional during the pandemic and our experienced lawyers are on hand to provide you with the timely legal advice you need during the crisis.


THIS ARTICLE IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE:  This article provides general information and should not be relied on without independent legal advice.