Builders liens during the COVID-19 pandemic
It is not quite business as usual, but the construction industry is seeing a return to pre-pandemic lien deadlines.
Despite generally suspending the legal time limitations in British Columbia by Ministerial Order No. 086 dated 26 March 2020 under the Emergency Program Act, the Minister has now repealed that Order and replaced it with Ministerial Order No. M098 dated 08 April 2020 (effective 15 April 2020). Order No. M098 specifies that the suspension of legal time limitations does not apply to “a mandatory limitation period and any other mandatory time period established under the Builders Lien Act ”, which includes the 45-day deadline from completion to file a claim of lien (section 20), the 21-day deadline for a lien claimant to commence a civil action following receipt of the notice to commence a claim (section 33(2)), and the one-year deadline from filing the claim of lien to commence a civil action (section 33(1)).
If a potential lien claimant missed a deadline under the Builders Lien Act during the 20-day period between Order No. 086 and Order No. M098, it may be open for that lien claimant to argue that Order No. 086 extended the relevant deadline by the 20 days during which that order remained in effect. Legal advice should be sought to assess the applicable circumstances of each case.
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