Not Less vs. Not later

October 1, 2019

Not Less vs. Not Later
by Audrey Priolo, Litigation Review Attorney

In most jurisdictions, legal deadlines usually roll forward or backward when the deadline falls on a weekend or holiday.  As discussed in my prior article, this concept of rolling can be deceptively simple.  Yet another question is – do you still roll a deadline when the code says, “no later than,” “not more than,” or “not less”?  The answer is, as with almost every legal question, sometimes.

As you may recall, California Code of Civil Procedure Sections 12 and 12a codify the rolling of deadlines for California State Court.  CCP 12a was enacted to extend legal deadlines the time that parties are deprived of public offices for the transaction of business.  Laubisch v. Roberdo, 43 Cal. 2d 702, 710, 277 P.2d 9, 14 (1954).  It would make sense that all deadlines would be modified by holidays, right.  Of course, it cannot be that easy.

In California, this question goes all the way back to the 1800’s.  In 1896, the California Supreme Court found that the CCP 12 roll should not apply because the Code stated “not less” than 30 days.  See Griffin v. Dingley, 114 Cal. 481, 483, 46 P. 457, 457 (1896).  California courts still cite Griffin over a hundred years later.  However, courts have now distinguished the difference between “not less” from “not later than.”  For example, Tran v. Fountain Valley Cmty. Hosp., 51 Cal. App. 4th 1464, 1466–67, 60 Cal. Rptr. 2d 91, 92 (1997), declined to follow Griffin indicating that a code requiring a backward calculation is distinguishable from a date calculated forward.  Tran supported applying the CCP 12 roll to dates calculated after an event.  See also DeLeon v. Bay Area Rapid Transit Dist. (1983) 33 Cal.3d 456, 458–459, 189 Cal.Rptr. 181, 658 P.2d 108.

This is only a basic look at a few situations that courts have reviewed in California.  Each code may use unique and distinctive language not expressly covered by these cases.  As always, it is best to use the most conservative date to ensure that at deadline is not missed. It is always better to beat a deadline than miss a deadline.

Audrey L. Priolo is a licensed California attorney with over 13 years of litigation and trial experience, who now works at American LegalNet as a Litigation Review Attorney.  Questions may be directed to apriolo@alncorp.com

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