Are you close to the limit?

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It’s always worthwhile to remind clients of the basics when it comes to bringing a claim in the courts and limitation dates are one of the fundamental considerations.

The limitation issues of a case are crucial points to consider to prevent the possibility of a claim being time-barred. The law sets out deadlines for bringing claims (referred to as limitation periods) so that a claim cannot be brought too long after the cause of action arose.

The law on limitation periods is set out in the Limitation Act 1980 which provides different deadlines for different causes of action.

For example:

• A claim founded on simple contract (a contract not contained in a deed) has a limitation period of six years from the date of accrual (or 12 years for a contract in a deed).

• A claim in tort (a civil wrong) has a limitation period is also six years from accrual (the period is cut to three years for personal injury cases and one year for defamation cases).

There are, however, certain situations where the time limit may be postponed until the Claimant discovers or could have discovered the relevant facts.

Issuing proceedings stops time running for limitation purposes, therefore it is important to obtain legal advice on this point as soon as possible.

Standstill Agreements

If a limitation deadline is fast approaching, it may be worthwhile for the parties to enter into a Standstill Agreement. A Standstill Agreement allows parties, by agreement, to suspend time for the purposes of limitation.  It is important that a Standstill Agreement is clearly drafted and serves its proper intention otherwise the claim may nevertheless be time-barred.

The risk of issuing prematurely

In order to protect a Claimant’s position to prevent the claim from being time-barred, proceedings may be issued to prevent limitation from expiring.  However, if the Claimant is then unable to formulate the claim properly, there is a risk that the claim could be struck out as an abuse of process.

Save the date!

When embarking on court proceedings, whilst it is important and encouraged to consider mediation and other methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution, it is crucial that clients do not allow negotiations as to possible settlement of the case to deter them from issuing proceedings in time.

Little has changed in the laws governing limitation dates in recent years, although Lord Justice Jackson’s final report following his review of civil litigation costs included recommendations that have led to the preparation of new draft Pre-Action Protocols. However, it is not clear when these new and revised Protocols will be implemented.  Watch this space!

Luke Patel

Luke Patel

If you require advice in relation to a limitation date or a claim -

Please contact Luke Patel
on 0113 227 9316
or by email at

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