Use it or Lose it - Limitation

3 min read
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Philip Giles


Limitation and the Limitation Act 1980

Did you know that in almost all Court proceedings, there will be a date that if, by which time you fail to start a claim, you will automatically lose your right to do so (known as the “limitation period”).

This is a point that is often overlooked by those that do not have the benefit of advice from a solicitor that specialises in civil litigation and, if missed, can have fatal consequences for your case.

Limitation is governed by the Limitation Act 1980, which sets out specific periods of time within which you must issue Court proceedings. These periods vary depending on the type of case that you are pursuing and can range from just three months in cases involving judicial review, to twelve years in cases involving recovery of land.

Determining the limitation period can in a lot of cases be relatively straightforward, but there are occasions where the position becomes less clear. For example, in certain cases the date that you discover the basis of a claim can extend the limitation period. This is known as the 'date of knowledge'. Whilst you may assume that you have a strict three years in which to pursue a personal injury claim, for example, there are exceptions including that the limitation period can run from the date of knowledge of what caused the injury (or, for example, from the 18th birthday of a child who is injured).

Limitation does not only apply to a case overall but can affect certain aspects of a claim. For instance, if you are landlord attempting to recover service charges that have remained unpaid by your tenant over a period of time, then it is likely you will only be able to recover six years' worth of those unpaid service charges, as a result of the limitation period. This could significantly limit the value of your claim.

If you think you have a potential claim and are unsure as to whether limitation may stop you from pursuing it, then our expert Litigation & Dispute Resolution solicitors can help you to determine the limitation period and what steps can be taken to ensure that it does not get missed. This could be, for example, by issuing protective Court proceedings, which protects your position whilst affording you four months in which to be able to formulate your case and serve the proceedings on your opponent.

Whatever happens, do not leave it to chance. If you miss the limitation period by just one day, you could automatically be barred from pursuing the case and, depending on the type of claim, this may cause you to lose significant sums of money. If you are unsure of your position, or need further guidance on pursuing a Court claim, speak to one of our solicitors in the Litigation & Dispute Resolution team today.

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