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Legally consequential instructions direct one on Wednesday the 3rd to submit something within 7 business days, and to expect a response within 7-10 business days. Are the weekend days of the 6th and 7th counted in the 7 days (as the 7th day from the 3rd, ie the 10th, the following Wednesday, does in fact fall on a business day)? Or does the clock stop on the weekend (as Saturday and Sunday the 6th & 7th aren’t business days)?

In other words, does 7 business days necessarily imply at least 9 calendar days?


Note: I understand the meaning of a business day. It generally excludes weekends and public holidays. But the question is deeper than this, and is about whether or not the clock and day tally stops on non-business days. For example, 3 business days (unlike 7 business days) need not necessarily straddle a weekend so make a poor illustration of the question. The question is in essence whether 3 business days beginning on a Tuesday is the same length in calendar days as a 3 business days beginning on a Thursday. Forgetting holidays and only considering weekends, do three business days from a Friday Expire on Monday or Wednesday? If they expire on Monday that means that the condition of business days counts weekend days as days while simply stipulating that if the count would end on a non-business days, then the period should be taken to be extended such as to end on the next business day after the non-business day on which it naturally ended. In this case, if both periods begin on a Friday, then all of {1 business day, 2 business days and 3 business days} would end at the same time (ie the next Monday). But if it expires on a Wednesdays, it means that it is as though the clock and tally

Of days fully stop on non-business days and resume counting on the next business days after the expiration of the period.

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  • That was a proxy for the same question. I don’t think it has morphed at all. The 7/9 framing was just the simplest unambiguous way to explain it that I could think of at the time Commented Apr 22, 2023 at 13:02
  • Who issued these instructions? I'm only asking as the term "business day" is not used by either the Civil or Criminal Procedure Rules.
    – user35069
    Commented May 9, 2023 at 21:48

3 Answers 3

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TL;DR

You do not count non-business days and you count starting from 0. So the next business day after you receive the correspondence is 1, then 2, and so on. And days end at midnight.

Business Days are defined by the context

What is, and what is not, a business day is not a straightforward proposition. Your understanding that it does not include weekends and public holidays is common-sensical but possibly wrong.

Most jurisdictions define business days, often in a foundational act like the Acts Interpretation Act 1901:

business day means a day that is not a Saturday, a Sunday or a public holiday in the place concerned.

However, those definitions are limited to the particular scope. In the above example, to the interpretation of Commonwealth legislation:

  • State legislation will have their own definition (which happens to be the same but only by coincidence),
  • specific legislation may override the general definition (e.g the NSW Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 1999 adds 27, 28, 29, 30 or 31 December as non-business days and its Queensland equivalent excludes the entire period from 22 December to 10 January)
  • it doesn’t apply to contracts, which need to define the term or risk having it be ambiguous. For example, for a retail store that is open every day of the year except Good Friday, a reasonable understanding of “business day” is every day except Good Friday.
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  • What basis do you have for the proposition of your TLDR? Commented Apr 22, 2023 at 6:29
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    Because I’m fluent in English. Also, that’s how the courts use the term.
    – Dale M
    Commented Apr 22, 2023 at 9:04
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does 7 business days necessarily imply at least 9 calendar days?

"7 business days" does not necessarily imply "at least 9 calendar days."

For example, until 2017, section 67 of the Liquor Control and Licensing Regulation defined "business day" to mean "in respect of a licensee, a day specified by the general manager [of the Liquor Control and Licencing Branch] as a business day."

In a contract, "business day" would be interpreted in the full context of the agreement, including the background, the market, etc. See generally Sattva Capital Corp. v. Creston Moly Corp., 2014 SCC 53. And for a specific example, see Goldstein et al. v. Grant, 1978 CanLII 1476 (Ont. C.A.), finding that in that particular agreement, a Saturday was a "business day."

Under Rule 8-1 of the Supreme Court Civil Rules of British Columbia, "business day" means "a day on which the court registries are open for business."


When counting business days, one does not count non-business days. I do not have a clear citation for this principle, but see D.R. v The Co-operators, 2020 CanLII 95858 (Ont. Licence Appeal Tribunal); G.A. v Allstate Insurance, 2020 CanLII 47718 (Ont. Licence Appeal Tribunal).

You do not necessarily start counting from zero. Whether the first or last days are included in the count depends on surrounding phrasing and context. See e.g. Interpretation Act, s. 27.


This answer says nothing about how to count business hours.

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  • Interesting. I mean I’ve seen periods specified as “24-48 business hours”, which really confuses things because there’s no way that it could possibly not count non business hours and still be specified like that. Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 22:11
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Generally, the legal definition of a business day is days on which banks must be open for business by law. In the Western World, this would be typically Monday-Friday, 9 p.m. - 5 p.m. This also excludes publicly recognized Holidays (In the U.K. they are called Bank Holidays. In the U.S. they are Federal Holidays.) or days which by law require banks to close. This would mean that Saturday and Sunday would not be counted, although most government run postal shipping does run on Saturdays, while private shipping companies normally run on Sundays.

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  • This misses the point of the question, I think. Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 21:09
  • pleas see the edits to the question and also the comments on the other answer. Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 22:12

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