While missed deadlines are always a risk management concern, the significant number of uncertainties brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic only serves to underscore the importance of remaining ever diligent in one’s effort to never miss a critical deadline. The good news, however, is many courts and a few states have started making moves to grant extensions on filing deadlines and it seems almost a certainty that more will follow suit. With this in mind here are a few things to consider during these troubling times:
1) There has been no unified response by the states or the courts, so make sure you completely read and understand the scope of any emergency order issued that grants an extension on filing deadlines.
2) Courts generally don’t have the authority to toll statutes of limitations so don’t assume a change to the rules of your local courts will apply to statute of limitations dates.
3) In New York, an Executive Order was recently issued that did toll the statute of limitations and — assuming other states follow New York’s lead — remember that these emergency orders have defined limits, meaning the orders will have no effect on any deadlines or statute of limitations dates that are due to expire on or after the date immediately following the expiration of the order.
4) When orders granting extensions are issued make sure you are clear on what courts the order applies to. For example, in North Carolina an emergency order was issued that granted extensions to the local courts, but not to the appellate courts.
5) Because the unexpected can happen and in order to avoid any last-minute rush to the courthouse, plan to take care of all filings at least a few days in advance of the day any emergency order expires.
6) And finally, be willing to extend a professional courtesy and readily grant an extension when requested by opposing counsel.
That’s it from us here at ALPS.
Stay safe, stay healthy, stay focused, and remember, we have your back.
Your ALPS Team.