Builders’ Liens and COVID-19

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and in collaboration with the Law Society of Alberta, the Alberta Minister of Justice and Solicitor General has issued a Ministerial Order (the “Order”) to suspend certain limitations periods and deadlines from March 17, 2020 to June 1, 2020.

The Order suspends all limitation periods in specific enactments listed in Appendix A.  This list does not include the Builders’ Lien Act, RSA 2000, c B-7 (the “BLA”).  For a complete list of enactments to which the Order applies, click here.

The Order also suspends, during those same dates, “Any period of time within which any step must be taken in any proceeding or intended proceeding.”  The intent and scope of this additional provision is unclear.  In particular, it appears this is a catch-all provision that is not limited to those enactments listed in Appendix A.  If so, this provision arguably applies to timelines set out in the BLA, even though that enactment is not listed in Appendix A. 

Although we would argue that the deadline to register a lien under section 41 of the BLA is not a step in a proceeding or intended proceeding, once again there is some room for interpretation.

As the Order is not clear if it is intended to apply to the registration of liens, and particularly because the BLA is not one of the enactments listed in Appendix A to the Order, we recommend lien claimants continue to comply with all time requirements in the BLA, such as to the deadline for lien registration, the deadline for registration of a certificate of lis pendens (section 42), and the deadline to file an affidavit providing particulars of a lien once served with a notice to prove lien (section 48(4)).

For more information about construction related matters and COVID-19, please visit our COVID-19 Resource Centre or contact a member of our Construction Team.