The Judicial Council approved a revision to emergency rule 9 regarding the statutes of limitations for filing civil cases during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to clarify that the emergency rule also applies to “statutes of repose”. Statutes of repose are similar to statutes of limitation but establish deadlines for filing certain civil cases somewhat differently.

On April 6, the council first adopted emergency rule 9 to suspend statutes of limitation on all civil cases until 90 days after Governor Newsom lifts the state of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the Governor has not announced a date to lift the state of emergency order—and may not for some time—he has announced plans to adjust the statewide shelter-in-place order in phases over the coming months. Additionally, many courts are starting to process civil filings, finding ways to move those cases forward despite the existence of COVID-19.

The council has amended emergency rule 9 by circulating order so that it is no longer tied to the state of emergency declaration. The new rule will restart statutes of limitations on set dates, and will:

  • Suspend from April 6 to October 1 the statutes of limitations and repose for civil causes of action that exceed 180 days
     
  • Suspend from April 6 to August 3 the statutes of limitations and repose for civil causes of action that are 180 days or less.
     

Causes of action with short-term statutes of limitation and repose have the more immediate deadline of August 3 because those deadlines are designed to ensure that any challenges in those matters are raised more quickly. This end date will also ensure courts can process civil actions, while providing certainty and reasonable notice to litigants of the end of the suspension period.

The rule is broad in scope and applies to all civil causes of action, including special proceedings of a civil nature, such as actions brought under the California Environmental Quality Act.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chief Justice and council have approved a number of temporary emergency actions, including the adoption of 13 temporary rules of court.

Circulating orders are posted to the Judicial Council meetings page.