December 15 , 2023

Limitation Periods Have Shrunk

November 28 , 2023

Motions Fritter Away Time and Money

November 27 , 2023

Will Foreclosure History Repeat Itself?

November 21 , 2023

Rules of Court Bind Even the King's Bench

November 2, 2023

Records and Affidavit of Records

November 2 , 2023

Uncommon Law

October 20 , 2023

Expanding Judicial Review Evidence

June 22, 2023

Competition v. Benefits

June 19, 2023

Clogged Courts

June 12, 2023

Preparing Applications in Uncertain Conditions

May 8, 2023

Competence is a Delicate Flower

March 30 , 2023

Urgent! Very Hard to Meet a Limitation Period

March 13 , 2023

Parties to Planning Appeals

March 7 , 2023

Costs in Family Law Litigation

January 30 , 2023

Dodging Settlement Privilege

January 4 , 2023

Lurking Dangers and Errors

January 3 , 2023

Your Real Goals

December 5 , 2022

Contracts for Higher Costs

November 24 , 2022

Scope of Offers to Settle

October 13 , 2022

Checklist for Cross-Examination

September 16 , 2022

Reviewing Latest Changes

August 22 , 2022

First Steps in Problem Solving

July 28 , 2022

Checklist of Powerful Procedural Principles

March 22 , 2022

Repeating a Cross-Examination Question

January 25 , 2022

Enforcing Land Sales Becomes Easier

January 5 , 2022

Proving a Settlement After a Mediation

November 16, 2021

Types of Injunctions

October 1, 2021

Orders After Litigation is Over

August 11, 2021

Discoverability for Limitation Periods

August 5 , 2021

Releases of Claims

June 7 , 2021

Language Used Still Matters

May 17 , 2021

Serving Uncooperative People

April 15 , 2021

Death and After-Life of Contingency Agreements

February 22 , 2021

Legal Analysis

February 2 , 2021

Costs Clarified at Last

January 4 , 2021


December 10, 2020

Traps and Confusion in Service Times

November 24, 2020

Don't Cut Corners

October 2 , 2020

Consent Orders

August 4 , 2020

Electronic Hearings

July 21, 2020

Ceasing to Act

June 29, 2020

Writing Skills

June 29, 2020

Keeping Up With the Law

June 22, 2020

Assets as a Test for Security for Costs

June 19, 2020

What is This Case About?

June 11, 2020

Cross-Examining Child Witnesses

May 20 , 2020

Formal Offers

May 13 , 2020

Vexatious or Self-Represented Litigants

January 7, 2020

G.S.T. and Costs

December 20 , 2019

Electronically Navigating the

October 7 , 2019

Questioning is a Bad Word

July 29 , 2019

Dismissal for Delay

May 7 , 2019

Rule 4.31 Fallacies

March 18 , 2019

More Dangers in Oral Fee Agreements

February 11 , 2019

Weir-Jones Decisions

January 9 , 2019

Discouraging Settlements

November 30, 2018

European Court Helps You Twice?

November 23 , 2018

Courts Overruling Tribunals

November 16 , 2018

New Evidence on Appeal

October 30 , 2018

Schedule C's Role

July 17 , 2018

Loopholes in Enforcing Settlements

May 7 , 2018

Enforcement of Procedure Rules

April 16, 2018

Limping Lawsuits are Often

April 3 , 2018

Court of Appeal Tips for
Summary Decisions

March 19, 2018

Serious Dangers in Chambers

February 13 , 2018

Court Backlog

December 18 , 2017

Lowering the Status of Courts

September 15 , 2017

Access to Court Decisions

July 4 , 2017

Strictissimi Juris

June 14 , 2017

Why Don't Your Clients Settle?

June 5 , 2017

Gap in Rules About Parties

June 5, 2017

Personal Costs Against

April 26, 2017

Clogged Courts

April 11, 2017

Dismissal for Want of

January 6, 2017

Incomplete Disclosure

December 15, 2016


November 23, 2016

Is Contract Interpretation Law?


Côté’s Commentaries

© J.E. Côté 2016-2023



Maybe you thought that only the Legislature (or Parliament) can change limitation periods for suing. In theory maybe, but they have all shrunk in Alberta.

Lawyers cannot file anything at Court House counters. It takes days for the Clerk’s office to review and approve filing anything electronically. And even if successful, that filing is usually not backdated to the date of receipt of the document. Very small or understandable discrepancies can make the system (or a Clerk) reject a document received for filing. And the Clerk may send notice that the document was rejected, or a query about it, only after the limitation period has expired.

There is a special process for filing in a different site and way if a limitation period is close, but many lawyers have not noticed that. And if the limitation period is (say) 6 or 7 days away when the statement of claim is sent in electronically, some counsel or paralegals may assume that the limitation date is not close, because they think that ordinarily documents are accepted or rejected faster than that.

That problem is not theoretical; a recent reported case shows it happened in Calgary.

The courts usually have no power to extend limitation periods. Whether they can deem an originating document like a statement of claim to have been filed when it was received or before the Clerk ruled on it, is still not entirely clear. See Sabir v. Gill 2023 ABKB 679, JCC 2201 11259 (AJ). (For Court of Appeal filings, see R. 14.92(c).)

What should lawyers do?

  1. Do not let your client postpone definite positive instructions to sue, appeal, or do whatever involves a time limit. Warn the client about the shorter de facto time limits.

  2. Draft a Statement of Claim or Originating Application well before the date when you plan to submit it for filing. Do not wait to file it, without a very strong reason.

  3. Treat 10 days before the limitation expires as if it were the last day to sue. If a certificate of pending litigation (lis pendens) is also needed, even that extra 10 days is much too short a margin for error.

  4. Well beforehand, check carefully the processes for electronically filing any documents subject to any time limit (statutory, under the Rules, or under some court order).

  5. Don't leave filing up to staff alone. Keep the lawyer involved in filing, when the limitation period is less than a month away.

  6. Have a second lawyer familiar with litigation check over the document to be submitted, to ensure there are no flaws which could lead to rejection.

  7. Have two people present and watching the computer when the document is electronically submitted for filing. The above Sabir case shows that one simple slip of a finger can silently kill everything, with no warning.

  8. What if, by some horrible happening, a statement of claim has to be submitted on the last day for suing? Maybe you could draft it as if there were no lawyer and send the client and some helper over to the Clerk’s counter for filing? (And not just ten minutes before the counter closes, either.) The lawyer could then get onto the record, after the filing. Whether all that would be considered unethical, however, I do not know.

  9. Pray a lot; you may need a miracle.

– Hon. J.E. Côté


The Commentaries are intended to call the attention of lawyers to promising or threatening developments in the law, in civil procedure, in developing their skills, or simply to describe something curious, funny or intriguing.

The Hon. Jean Côté retired from the Court of Appeal of Alberta and would be willing to act as an arbitrator, mediator, or referee under Rules 6.44 and 6.45 of the Alberta Rules of Court.

He may be contacted through Juriliber at:

email: or phone 780-424-5345.