LAWPRO Updates

LAWPRO Update re Suspension of Limitation Period

October 2, 2020

In response to a question raised about the resumption of limitation periods in our Justice Sector meeting, the OBA received the following message from LAWPRO:

Thank you for raising this question and helping me see there is more confusion on this issue than we appreciated. It is obviously a matter of concern to LAWPRO, and an issue we have discussed with the Attorney General and his staff on several occasions. We are keenly interested in sorting out the confusion that currently exists on the calculation of limitation periods and procedural time periods (which I will collectively refer to as limitation periods from this point forward).

Outside of pandemic-related circumstances, errors related to limitation periods and procedural time periods are the most common cause of litigation claims for LAWPRO, totalling several hundred claims on an annual basis. These errors involve not knowing and missing a specific deadline, missing a known deadline as it was not entered into a calendar or tickler system, or missing a deadline after not responding to a reminder triggered by a tickler system.

We are now seeing limitations period-related claims arise as a direct result of the pandemic and the suspension of limitations periods. Specifically, we are seeing claims arise in the following circumstances:

lawyers misunderstood or misinterpreted the impact of the suspension or temporary requirements;

lawyers were not aware of the suspension;

pandemic-related circumstances caused a lawyer not to take action on a known limitation period; and

lawyers were unable to get a court hearing to deal with a limitation related question.

Since the lifting of the suspension, my claims colleagues tell me we are more seeing questions about how the time period of the suspension should be considered when calculating limitation deadlines, for both limitation period deadlines that occurred during the suspension, and for those that are occurring after the suspension.

LAWPRO is of the view that the time that ran during the suspension is added to the September 14, 2020 date to establish the new COVID adjusted deadline. We believe the government is of the same mindset and we have promised them we will work to clarify this point for our insureds, i.e., that there was a six month tolling of all limitation periods and the period of the suspension must be considered when calculating limitations periods that occurred during and after the suspension. LAWPRO is working on communications to send to our 29,000 insured lawyers on this point, along with advice on how they can reduce their risk for a limitations-related error. ....

Dan Pinnington
President & CEO