Often we are asked by a client, what is the time frame within which a consumer can bring a claim.
The Limitation Act 1980 sets out the time limits in which a claim can be brought. The legislation is in place to help limit the exposure to litigation for wrongful acts.
Over a period of time it becomes more difficult as things will change, such as a witnesses memory of the events or evidence available which allows a judge to properly review the case.
The limitation period is dependent on the action. If a claim is brought by a claimant out of the time frame, then the Defendant will be able to plead limitation as a defence and the Claimant shall then have the burden of proving that the cause of action did arise within the relevant statutory timeframe.
Once a claim from is received by a court, then the time stops running. Therefore, if parties are in settlement negotiations and the limitation expiry date is approaching then quite often the Claimant will commence proceedings whilst then putting the timeframe on hold. This allows the parties to continue negotiations without the worry of being out of time to bring a claim.
Here are some of the key limitation time periods which may be of interest;
- Claims for negligence (other than personal injury or death) must be made within six years from the date of the negligent act/omission. But, if the claim involves physical damage, the start date for the limitation period is from the date of the damage, not the act which causes damage.
- Claims for personal injury or death must be made within three years of the negligent act/omission or knowledge.
- Claims for fraud must be made within six years of the date the cause of action accrued. Time does not begin until the fraud has, or with reasonable diligence would have been, exposed, if the defendant purposely covers any fact relevant to the cause of action.
- To enforce a judgment it must be brought within six years of the date upon which the judgment became enforceable.
The one which will be applicable to our clients;
- Contract claims must be brought within six years of the date of breach.
Whilst six years is a long period of time, bringing a successful claim after a period of time is difficult! If you sold a car and the consumer is attempting to reject it twelve months later then the burden of proof is upon them.
Which means, it is down to them to prove the vehicle was faulty at the point of sale and there is a breach of contract.
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