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Litigation

The Final Countdown: Limitation Dates: What they are and why they are important

Limitation Dates

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Limitation dates arise from the Limitation Act 1980 and create deadlines for when various types of claim must be issued at Court. Whilst the applicable deadline varies between different types of claim, the purpose of limitation dates is clear and consistent: to bring a certainty and finality to litigation. The aim is to avoid parties arguing over historic events whereby it would be impossible to hold a fair trial as the applicable evidence will inevitably no longer be available.

In the event that you issue a claim after your limitation date has expired, the Defendant will be able to apply to the Court to strike out your claim (i.e., dismiss the claim in its entirety) regardless of its merits. As such, it is imperative that your claim is issued at the Court prior to your limitation date, failing which you may be unable to pursue relief and damages to which you may otherwise be entitled.

The rules surrounding limitation dates are notoriously complex with a variety of factors affecting when your specific limitation clock begins to run. As such, it is imperative to seek legal advice immediately.

However, some basic limitation periods are set out in the table below:

Nature of Action Starting Point Length of Limitation Period
Simple contract The date of the breach of contract Six years.
Tort (e.g., negligence) The date the damage is suffered. Six years.
Personal injury or death Later of:
Accrual of cause of action.
Date of knowledge of the person injured.
Three years.
Defamation or malicious falsehood Accrual of cause of action. One year.
Informal loan contracts (loan agreements which do not provide a fixed date for repayment and which do not effectively provide for repayment on demand). The date of written demand for repayment. Six years.
Specialty (such as documents under seal, including some deeds). Accrual of cause of action. 12 years.
Action to recover land Accrual of cause of action (dispossession or discontinuance of possession). 12 years.
Action to recover rent The date on which rent arrears become due. Six years.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.

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