When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in mid-March, people’s lives were thrown into disarray with the smallest of life’s moments and the largest being affected by health concerns and the restrictions that came with them. Naturally, some obligations with deadlines, such as returning library books, were forgotten. And while COVID-19 is an excuse for many adjustments made in life, a recent decision from the Court of Appeal of Alberta shows that it can’t be an excuse for missed deadlines with the court.
A deadline missed during COVID-19
The notice of appeal in question was initially filed on May 20, 2020. It included issues related to a power of attorney situation. On June 4, 2020, the appeal was re-categorized as a fast track appeal. The appellant was advised in writing that he had until July 2, 2020 to file his appeal record. That date came and went, and on July 3, 2020, it was struck. As a result, the appellant filed an application to restore it.
A history of missed deadlines
The respondent told the court that the appeal has no merit, explaining that the appellant was invited to address the issue back in October 2017. The appellant was given a number of opportunities to reply to the issue, but the appellant failed to respond. The chambers judge at the time used the evidence of the other party alone to make their decision, with the other party being the only one to submit evidence.
The court was told that the appellant had given no reasonable explanations for his failure to file the appeal on time. However, the appellant said the decision to fast track the appeal left him with little time. But again, he did not request an extension.
Pandemic is no excuse to miss court filing dates
The appellant argued that COVID-19 also impacted his ability to meet the deadlines, explaining that he had to stay indoors and that most law firms were closed. However, the court did not give much weight to this argument, writing, “He does not state any specific deterrence caused to him personally by Covid-19. He has not had a lawyer since 2017, and it is incorrect that Calgary lawyers were not available for hire in June and July 2020; most firms were open for business, even if operating remotely.”
The respondent added that the appellant has a history of lack of attention to deadlines and provided the court with a chronology of deadlines that the appellant failed to meet.
The court agreed with the respondent, adding the appeal had little chance of succeeding. The court stated the appellant’s explanations for his failure to file the appeal were vague and insufficient.
Having experienced legal assistance when facing matters where deadlines matter, such as insurance law, is critical. The team at HMC Lawyers offers strategic legal advice to our clients in a wide range of areas. To make an appointment with a member of our team, contact us online or call 403-269-7220