COVID-19, Builders Liens and Limitation Periods

As many people may be aware, on March 26, 2020 the government of BC suspended limitation periods as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The original ministerial order can be found here.

On April 8, 2020 the government of BC issued a new ministerial order which can be found here. This new ministerial order replaced the one of March 26, 2020 and went into force on April 15, 2020.

The new ministerial order continues to suspend limitation periods established by an enactment or law of BC requiring a claim to be commenced in the Provincial Court, Supreme Court or Court of Appeal but was updated from the previous order to include two very important exceptions:

  1. the mandatory limitation periods and other mandatory time periods established under the Builders Lien Act; and
  2. division 5 of part 5 of the Strata Property Act which concern builders liens being filed against strata properties.

So far as we understand the new ministerial order, all deadlines under the Builders Lien Act continue to apply including, but not limited to:

  • the 45-day deadline to file a builders lien;
  • the 55-day period for release of holdback funds;
  • the 21-day deadline to commence an action and file a certificate of pending litigation when served with a 21 day notice; and
  • the one-year deadline to perfect a builders lien through commencing an action and filing a certificate of pending litigation.

The new ministerial order applies during the period from April 8, 2020 until the state of emergency which began on March 18, 2020 expires or is cancelled.

Parties that may be affected by builders lien concerns are urged to resolve those concerns as soon as possible in order to avoid the loss of legal rights or remedies otherwise available to them. Parties affected by builders lien concerns that may have been suspended under the previous ministerial order which are now no longer suspended by the present ministerial order are cautioned to give special consideration to any potentially expiring deadlines.

For more legal resources and information about COVID-19 concerns, please visit our COVID-19 Information Centre. Our archive of construction related articles has many resources related to builders lien concerns.

Please note that this article is current to April 15, 2020.

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