IT’S NOT AS EASY AS 1, 2, 3…

Have you ever been given a deadline by a litigation lawyer or by the civil court?  Sometimes the deadline might have a specific end date like “September 1st, 2023”; other times you may be given a number of days like “within 7 days”, and you are left having to count calendar days.  This may sound pretty straight forward but is not always as easy as 1, 2, 3…

When dealing with litigation timelines, there are specific rules to follow when it comes to counting.  These rules can be found at Rule 3.01 of the Rules of Civil Procedure.  Keep reading for a few tips and tricks.

Where does one start?  

When counting, you do not count the initial or start date, but rather, the day after. Is that confusing? Let me break it down for you.  If you receive a court order dated August 14th, 2023 and are given a deadline of 3 days, then you would begin counting as of August 15th (the day after the start date), thereby making August 15th day 1, August 16th would be day 2, and August 17th would be day 3 – your deadline!

Where does one land?

When finding your deadline, you need to pay attention to the day of the week that your deadline lands on.  Using the same example above, let’s change our deadline from 3 days to 5 days.  Remember that our court order was dated August 14, 2023.  What happens when you count 5 days according to the Rules?  You land on a Saturday.  The Rules state that Saturdays and Sundays are “holidays”. What happens to your deadline if it lands on a holiday? Is the deadline null and void? Absolutely not.  Your deadline gets moved to the next day that is not a holiday, and in our example, that would be Monday August 21st, 2023.

What day is next?

Another important thing to note about holidays – holidays shall not be counted if you are given a deadline of 7 days or less.  A complete list of other “holidays” can be found at Rule 1.03(1) of the Rules. What happens when your counting runs into a holiday? If it’s 7 days or less you skip over the holidays.  Looking at the same example one more time, if you have a deadline of 7 days from August 14th, the deadline would be August 23rd. We have counted each day and skipped over the holidays, Saturday and Sunday.  Remember to watch out for civic and statutory holidays which can throw off your deadlines too.

When does it end???

Deadlines of more than 7 days become a little less complicated to compute as you include all calendar days, even holidays, when counting making things a little more straightforward.  The only real complication with longer deadlines (20 days, 45 days, 75 days) is you may find yourself endlessly counting days and days, giving yourself more room for error.  For long deadlines, I like to use an online day counter like this one. Remember to keep in mind that although you’re not skipping holidays when counting, you still need to be mindful of a deadline landing on a holiday and move your deadline to the next day that is not a holiday.

Where does the time go?

Do you have to keep an eye on the clock?  Yes!  You may be thinking that you have until midnight to submit, serve or file your documents, but that would make you late on your deadline.  Your second guess might be 5p.m.  That is of course the usual end of business time, but again, if you submit, serve or file your documents by 5p.m. you will also be late.  The deadline to serve and file is actually 4p.m.  If you play the stock market, you may be comfortable with the 4p.m. deadline.  So just remember you need to serve, file and trade all by 4 p.m.

Thanks for reading and happy counting.

Lucy Goytisolo


Nothing contained in this post constitutes legal advice or establishes a solicitor-client relationship. If you have any questions regarding your legal rights or legal obligations, you should consult a lawyer.