Christmas celebrations have now come to end and a new year has arrived. While for many 2016 promises new and exciting opportunities, for some (at least in a legal context) it will signal the end of opportunities that previously existed. I am of course talking about limitation periods and there is nothing like watching the calendar tick over into a new year to remind you how important this subject is.
What Are Limitation Periods?
All civil claims in England and Wales are subject to some form of limitation period by virtue of the Limitation Act 1980. The length of and the rules as to when this period starts to run vary depending on the type of civil claim.
The most common limitation periods you are likely to encounter are:
- the limitation period for contractual claims – generally 6 years from the date of breach;
- limitation for claims in tort – generally six years from the date of damage; and
- the limitation period for personal injury claims – generally three years from the date of damage.
(Please note that both tort and personal injury limitation periods have complicated provisions that concern date of knowledge and specialist advice should always be sought). Should you allow the limitation period to expire you will be prevented from bring your claim. It will be time barred.
What Steps Can I Take?
So what can you do you do to protect your position concerning limitation? The most important thing you should do is seek legal advice as soon as you believe you might have a claim. Surprisingly, many people choose to wait (sometimes for years) before they seek legal advice about a potential claim. There is nothing more frustrating than having to advise a prospective new client that they have a strong claim, but that they can’t pursue it as the limitation period has expired.
If you have already sought legal advice and it is your legal advisor who has allowed the limitation period to expire, the chances are that they may have been professionally negligent. You should immediately seek independent legal advice on whether you have a claim against your solicitor.
Do you believe you have a civil claim and need advice? If so our experienced civil litigation team can help you. We have specialist solicitors in all areas of civil litigation from professional negligence to commercial and property litigation.
Contact us today to see how we can help you.