Singapore - Time Bars

Date: 31/01/2017
Author: Kenneth Lie
Source: Thomas Miller
Singapore - Time Bars

A limitation period is the time within which claimants have to commence legal proceedings, either in court or arbitration, otherwise those claims will become time barred.
In Singapore, relevant limitation periods for maritime claims can be found in the Limitation Act, the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act, the Foreign Limitation Periods Act, and the Maritime Conventions Act. As this bulletin is intended to be for information only, formal legal advice from a lawyer should be obtained for any particular claim as much could turn on the particular facts of the case.
Limitation Act
This Act covers a wide scope of claims, but the most relevant type for our purpose are claims in contract, tort, personal injury, and for latent damage.

  1. Contractual claims: six years from the date on which the cause of action accrued (section 6 ).
  2. Action for negligence, nuisance or breach of duty in respect of personal injuries, latent injuries and damage, whichever is later of:
  • three years from the date on which the cause of action accrued; or
  • three years from the earliest date on which the claimant has the knowledge required for bringing an action for damages in respect of the relevant injury.
    (section 24A(2))

Foreign Limitation Periods Act

For disputes litigated in Singapore but governed by the laws of another jurisdiction, the law that governs the dispute provides the applicable limitation period (section 3).

Carriage of Goods by Sea Act

This Act enacts the Hague Visby Rules (“HVR”) into the law of Singapore with some amendments. The relevant limitations periods are found at:

  1. Article III, paragraph 6 – in respect of cargo: Subject to 6bis one year from their delivery or the date on which they should have been delivered.
  2. Article III, paragraph 6bis – An indemnity action against a third party may be brought even after the expiration of the year provided in (1) above, if brought within the time allowed by the law of the Court seized of the case, which shall be not less than 3 months from the day when the person bringing the action has settled the claim or been served with process in the action against himself.

Maritime Conventions Act, 1911

Section 8 provides for a 2 year limitation period for claims regarding salvage services, or claims for damage or loss to another ship, her cargo or freight or any property on board her, or damages for loss of life or personal injuries suffered by any person on board her caused by the fault of the other ship. The limitation period runs from the date when the damage, loss or injury was caused or the salvage services were rendered.

To summarise in table form:

Nature of ClaimTime BarLegislation
Contract and TortWithin six years and from the date the cause of action accruedSection 6 - Limitation Act
Personal Injury/death, latent injuries and damageWithin three years of accrual of the negligent act or omission or knowledge, if laterSection 24A(2) – Limitation Act
Foreign Limitation PeriodsThe law that governs the dispute provides the applicable limitation period.Section 3 – Foreign Limitation Periods Act
Carriage of Goods by Sea

Within 1 year of the date of delivery of goods or of the date when they should have been delivered.

Indemnity action may be brought even after the expiration of the year provided above, if brought within the time allowed by the law of the Court seized of the case, which shall be not less than 3 months from the day when the person bringing the action has settled the claim or been served with process in the action against himself.

Schedule to the Carriage of Goods by Sea Act
(Article III, paragraphs  6 and 6bis of the Hague Visby Rules)
Maritime Conventions Act2 year limitation period from the date when the damage, loss or injury was caused by the ship or the salvage services were rendered. Section 8 – Maritime Conventions Act, 1911.

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About the Author

Kenneth Lie joined Thomas Miller (South East Asia) Pte. Ltd in September 2007 as a Director. Kenneth qualified as a solicitor in England and as an advocate & solicitor in Singapore. He has practised as a commercial litigator in England, in the Singapore office of an English international shipping law firm, and in a Singapore shipping law firm.


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