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Alberta Court Procedures – UPDATED

To provide some clarification on our recent publication dated May 11, 2020, please see the following.

There are two notable enactments that have altered the legal landscape in light of COVID-19. These are the Amended Master’s Order issued by the Court of Queen’s Bench, and the Ministerial Order No. 27/2020 issued by the Alberta Legislature.

Summary of Amended Master’s Order 3, pronounced April 21, 2020:

  • All filing deadlines under the Rules of Court are suspended until May 31, 2020, with the exception of those Rules applicable to the commencement of proceedings, including originating applications.

Summary of Ministerial Order No. 27/2020

  • Limitations set out in the specific provisions of the Appendix are suspended from March 17 to June 1, 2020
  • Any period within which any step must be taken is suspended to June 1, 2020
  • The temporary suspension period will not be counted and the limitation period resumes running on June 1, 2020
  • The Appendix lists various acts to which the Ministerial Order applies, including the Judicature Act and the Limitations Act.

Some concerns have been raised regarding the portion of the Ministerial Order that states “subject to the discretion of the Court”. The Chief Justice indicated that the Court still has the authority to alter deadlines, and by enacting the Amended Master’s Order 3, has done so in a blanket fashion.

Rule 13.5 allows the Court to alter time periods under the Rules unless the Rules otherwise provide. Certain rules, such as Rule 4.33, do not allow the Court to extend any of the timelines. In such circumstances, the Court is not able to extend any of the timelines, which suggests the Amended Master’s Order extending their deadlines does not apply. However, the Ministerial Order applies to several notable enactments, including the Limitations Act and the Judicature Act. The Court gave the impression that where the Court does not have the ability to extend the deadlines, the legislature can via the Ministerial Order.

The Master’s Amended Order specifically indicates that filing deadlines have not been suspended for the commencement of actions, including originating applications. The Court did not comment on whether the Ministerial Order suspended limitation periods under the Limitations Act. Readers are encouraged to seek legal advice regarding the expiry of limitation periods of commencement of actions.

An FAQ on these subjects will be posted by the Court in the near future. Readers are encouraged to consult this FAQ for further clarification upon posting.

An important reminder that while this newsletter deals with legal topics, it is not intended to be nor can it be considered legal advice.