Limitation is the specified period during which you can make a claim against the defendant. This is done by issuing a claim form and supporting documents at Court, together with the required fee.

How long is the limitation period?

The limitation period for your claim will depend on the type of claim you are making. We set out a couple of examples below:

  • Claims under a contract (e.g. a commercial debt) – six years
  • Claims for the recovery of land and other actions under a deed (e.g. recovery of a service charge) – 12 years
  • Recovery of arrears of rent – six years
  • Clinical negligence and personal injury claims – three years. My colleague, Hazel Puckering looks at limitation in clinical negligence cases in her recent article.
  • Fraudulent breach of trust – no limitation period.

These are just a couple of examples, and there are some exceptions to the rule.

When does the clock start ticking?

The time starts to run from the earliest time at which an action may be brought.

In the case of Hoey v Sir Robert Lloyd & Co Ltd & Others (2011) it was confirmed that the clock will start to run when the claimant had the knowledge of the potential issue, which must be directly linked to the defendant’s negligent act. The negligent act must cause the Claimant some form of loss.

Where the Claimant is a child the clock will not start to run until they reach 18.

In Pritam Kaur v S Russell and Sons Limited [1973] Lord Denning confirmed that where the expiry date falls on a weekend or antoher day on which the court is closed, the limitation date is extended to the next working day.

” …when a time is prescribed by statute for doing any act, and that act can only be done if the court office is open on the day when the time expires, then, if it turns out in any particular case that the day is a Sunday…. the time is extended until the next day on which the court office is open”.

When does the clock stop?

If proceedings are issued by post (rather than hand delivered) the clock will only stop once the documents and cheque for the required amount are received by the Court, and not when this is posted to Court.

The clock stops ticking once proceedings are delivered to the Court. If the Court keeps hold of the papers and issues them on a later date, the actual date of issue is irrelevant. It is important to note that the court has discretion to disapply the limitation period and allow proceedings to be issued.  However, this is very subjective and will purely be based at judge’s discretion.

We recommend that you seek legal advice as soon as possible if you think you may have a claim to ensure you don’t miss the limitation date. Call our dispute resolution team today on 0800 988 7756for a free initial discussion.