Resolution no. 1246 of 2020

Abiding by the courts' procedural time frames, is extremely important to any litigant, since missing the deadlines may lead to the loss of procedural guarantees, and consequently the loss of a claimants' rights.

In cases that fall under the category of force majeure, such deadlines are suspended for the duration of the disrupting event.

COVID-19 has of course resulted in the disruption of many sectors, particularly the legal sector since all courts were closed as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the pandemic during its early days.

With this in mind, Prime Ministerial decree no. 1246 of 2020 was issued to recognize the period from 17th March 2020, until 27th June 2020 as a suspension period, for mandatory grievances, court cases proceedings, appeals, and any other procedural time limits implemented by the regulatory laws and decrees.

Concurrently, it is essential to note that such suspension of procedural deadlines has raised many practical questions regarding the implementation of the aforementioned Prime Minister's decision. This is evidenced, in one case, wherein the Cassation Prosecution concluded in its report that the appeal filed by one of the litigants was inadmissible on the basis that the appeal should have occurred within a maximum of 60 days, and here, the appeal was filed on the 68th day, even though the judgment was issued on 23rd March 2020, and the appellant filed the appeal on 30th May, 2020.

Despite this, at the hearing held on the 27th March 2021 the Court of Cassation in Appeal No. 9919 of 90 rejected this opinion and ruled that the appeal is admissible on the basis that the appeal time limit is suspended if, during this time a force majeure event, or a sudden accident has occurred. Furthermore, the decision of the Prime Minister clearly categorized COVID-19 as a force majeure event, and officially stated that the aforementioned period, starting on the 17th March 2020, and ending on the 27th June 2020 is a period of suspension for all procedural deadlines set forth in the decision. This suspension of procedural deadlines clarifies that the suspension period shall not be taken into consideration when calculating procedural deadlines, Instead, after the disrupting event has stopped, courts will calculate deadlines by adding the period prior to suspension, to the subsequent period after the disrupting event has stopped.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.