COVID-19: Measures to limit access in courthouses

April 3, 2020 – Did you know that the Minister of Justice and the Chief Justice of Quebec have announced measures to limit access to courthouses?

On March 15, the Minister of Justice and the Chief Justice of Quebec announced the suspension of extinctive prescription and limitation periods as well as civil procedure delays in order to counter the spread of COVID-19. As a result, access to courthouses has been reduced to the minimum. From now on, only urgent cases are now heard by the various courts in Quebec. Considering the current situation, the Minister of Justice and the Chief Justice of Quebec took action and announced, on March 15, 2020, the suspension of all extinctive and forfeiture limitation periods and all civil procedure time limits (the “Suspension”).

The Suspension is valid “until the expiry of the period of the declaration of a health emergency provided for by Order in Council No. 177-2020 of March 13, 2020” or for a period equivalent to any renewal thereof. It should be noted that under the Public Health Act, the current state of emergency can only be valid for a period of ten days, renewable at the end of the period. Decree No. 177-2020 has already been renewed twice, and it is expected that this will happen again. The end of the Suspension is therefore currently scheduled for 7 April 2020, but the situation must be monitored carefully.

Furthermore, it is important not to confuse the expiration of the Suspension period with the expiration of any other measures put in place by the Government. For example, the shutdown of businesses considered non-essential until April 13, 2020 will not affect the Suspension period.

The Suspension will allow time for the justice system to make the necessary adjustments to recover its operations. In the meantime, stay tuned and be ready to act as soon as court operations resume.

To fully understand the impact of this measure on your rights or to be informed promptly of the end of the Suspension, do not hesitate to contact one of our professionals.