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Must a statutory power to extend a timeline in a professional regulatory process be exercised before the expiry of that timeline? In a recent decision, the Alberta Court of Appeal confirmed that a power to extend a statutory timeline will not be interpreted as requiring that the extension be granted before the expiry date. In Mema v Chartered Professional Accountants of Alberta, 2022 ABCA 4, the Court determined that there is no presumption that such a power must be exercised prior to the statutory deadline. Specific language in the legislation would be required to treat such deadlines as being akin to a “limitation period”. Special care has to be taken on this issue, and the language of each particular statute must be reviewed carefully. Helpfully, the Court reiterated that in interpreting statutory timelines, a court must pay “due regard to the real consequences” of a particular interpretation.
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As governments move on from pandemic-related restrictions, now is the time to consider whether statutory tribunals should re-visit their hearing procedures for video hearings. The cost savings resulting from video hearings may well justify a presumption that hearings should be done by video, but consideration should be given for what circumstances would require an in-person hearing, and procedures for parties to apply for it.ls more broadly.
What statutory timelines apply in your professional regulatory environment? Consider whether those timelines might require that extensions are granted before the expiry, and review your processes to ensure that those important deadlines are not missed.
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