The early bird gets her trial brief filed!

The procrastinators among us are well acquainted with the Interpretation Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 238 (the “Act”) s. 25(3), which extends deadlines by providing that:

    If the time for doing an act in a business office falls or expires on a day when the office is not open during regular business hours, the time is extended to the next day that the office is open.

Many lawyers have often taken the extra day or two this provision allows to finalize a Response to Civil Claim before filing, or review expert reports before service.

But take note: BC Supreme Court Registries do not use s. 25(3) of the Act when they calculate filing deadlines. There was a recent instance where there was a Sunday filing deadline for a trial brief and s. 25(3) of the Act was relied on to file the brief on Monday. Surprisingly, the trial brief was rejected. A letter was sent to the registry explaining the calculation of time, including s. 25(3) of the Act, but apparently was not persuasive.

After further inquiries it was determined that this was not an anomaly; BC Registry staff calculate filing deadlines pursuant to the direction of their Rules Committee and have not been instructed to apply s. 25(3) of the Act. As a result, when the time for filing falls or expires on a day when the Registry is not open, such as a weekend or holiday, time is not “extended to the next day” that the Registry is open. To avoid filing late, you must file by the business day before what would otherwise be the deadline.

This is particularly important when you are filing a trial brief or trial certificate. Effective July 1, 2016, Rule 12-2 of the BC Supreme Court Rules established new and stricter timelines for filing trial briefs. Trial briefs can only be filed late by order of the Court. Failure to file a trial brief or trial certificate on time can cause your matter to be removed from the trial list[1] and in the case of late trial briefs, can result in a costs award against your client[2].

To save yourself an unnecessary trip to Chambers, check your BFs and make sure any filing deadlines which fall on a weekend or civic holiday are moved to the prior business day. Then take that weekend or civic holiday and relax!

[1] See Rules 12-2(3.3), 12-4(5) and the June 2, 2016 Notice Regarding Trial Management Conference and Timelines from the Honourable Chief Justice Hinkson here.

[2] See Rule 12-2(3.2).