Builders Lien Act Exempted from Suspension of Limitation Periods

BUILDERS LIEN ACT EXEMPTED FROM SUSPENSION OF LIMITATION PERIODS covid-19 coronavirus construction law

By order dated March 26, 2020, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General made an order that:

Every mandatory limitation period and any other mandatory time period that is established in an enactment or law of British Columbia within which a civil or family action, proceeding, claim or appeal must be commenced in Provincial Court, Supreme Court or Court of Appeal is suspended.

The language of the March 26 order created some uncertainty as it related to deadlines in the Builders Lien Act, SBC 1997, c 45, in particular how it may have applied to lien time frames and to the holdback period. To learn more about the March 26 order, read our blog here. On April 8, the Minister issued a new order, which kept the above language that is now subject to the following:

Subsection (1) does not apply to a mandatory limitation period and any other mandatory time period established under the following enactments:

(a) the Builders Lien Act;

(b) Division 5 [Builders Liens and Other Charges] of Part 5 [Property] of the Strata Property Act.

The April 8 order is effective April 15, 2020 and ends on the date on which the last extension of the declaration of a state of emergency made March 18, 2020 expires or is cancelled.  The April 8 order replaces the March 26 order.

While the 45 day time frame within which a lien must be filed and the 55 day holdback period were likely unaffected by the previous order, the April 8 order makes it clear that, once in effect, all mandatory limitation periods and time periods established in the Builder Lien Act are not suspended.

What does this mean for limitation periods that may have been suspended under the March 26 order? It means that those limitation periods will begin running once the April 8 order is in effect.  If your limitation period expired while the March 26 order was in force, you may have limited time to act.

Every situation is unique, and this holds particularly true for the Builders Lien Act and claims of lien. While this blog gives a general overview of the potential impact of the Minister’s order of March 26 and April 8, nothing here should be taken as legal advice. We strongly encourage you to seek legal advice with respect to any construction related matters.

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