Ireland - Time Bars

Date: 19/01/2017
Author: Helen Noble
Source: Noble Shipping Law
Ireland - Time Bars

Statutory time bars are governed by the Statute of Limitations Act 1957 as amended by the Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Act 1991 and 2000. The statutory limitation periods cannot be extended by agreement. The issue of whether a claim is statute-barred is however a defence that must be raised by a Defendant once proceedings are issued. A court will not consider this issue on its own volition. A defendant may be estopped from relying upon the Statute of Limitations as a defence if their conduct renders it unjust to permit them to do so.

Contract Claims
Under section 11 (1) (a) of the Statute of Limitations Act 1957 actions founded on a simple or quasi-contract will be statute barred where they are taken more than six years from accrual of the cause of action

Claims in Tort
Under section 11 (2) of the Statute of Limitations Act 1957 tortious claims must be brought within six years of the accrual of the cause of action. However for personal injury claims arising from negligence, nuisance or breach of duty, the time bar is governed by the Civil Liability and Courts Act 2004 and provides for a limitation period of two years from accrual of the cause of action or the date of knowledge of the injury whichever is later. The date of knowledge is generally construed as the date on which the injury was suffered. This is subject to certain exceptions such as those under the age of eighteen (a minor), date of knowledge will be the victim’s eighteenth birthday. Actions for fatal injuries must be brought within two years of death.
It is also important to note that in Ireland authorisation to commence proceedings for personal injury claims must be obtained from the Injuries Compensation Board. When an application to the Injuries Board is submitted the time bar period temporarily stops running upon receipt of acknowledgment of claim. The time bar then starts running again six months after authorisation has been granted by the Injuries Board to purse a claim in the courts.

Maritime Claims
Special provisions apply in respect of maritime cases. Under section 46 (2) of the Civil Liability Act 1961 a claim against the owners or operators of a vessel for a personal injury or fatal injury or property damage suffered by a passenger on that vessel or for damage to another vessel or cargo, proceedings must be initiated within two years of the accrual of the action.
Section 46(3) of the Civil Liability Act 1961 confers a discretion on the courts to extend this period subject to such conditions as it sees fit.  In Lawless v Dublin Port and Docks Board (1998) 1 ILRM 514 the court held that the plaintiff must show special circumstances before an extension of time would be granted. The court in considering an application to extend time will consider the blameworthiness of the defendant and the length of the delay.

Defective Products

Section 7 (1) of the Defective Products Act 1991 provides for a three year limitation period for the initiation of proceedings under the Act. A producer under that Act ceases to have any liability 10 years after the date on which his product was put into circulation.

Latent Defects

Claims involving latest damage will generally involve a claim in tort under negligence. As above the time bar for claims in negligence is six years from the date the cause of action arises. Generally a cause of action arises when the actual physical damage occurs or manifests. The Irish courts have held that it is the time at which some manifestation of damage arises, and not the time at which damage is actually discovered, that time begins to run.

Contractual Limitations

Section 31 of the Merchant Shipping (Liability of Ship-owners and Others) Act 1996 gives the Hague-Visby Rules force of law in Ireland. The time bar provided for under Article III Rule 6 within the Rules will therefore be applied.

Nature of ClaimTime Bar
Contract ClaimsWithin six years from accrual of the cause of action – section 11 (1) (a) Statute of Limitations Act 1957 unless action under a contract created by deed where the time period is 12 years
Tortious Claims (except personal Injury Claims)Within six years from accrual of the cause of action  – section 11 (2) Statute of Limitations Act 1957
Personal Injury ClaimsTwo years from the date of accident or knowledge of an injury whichever is later In the case of a minor the date of knowledge is assumed on eighteenth birthday. For fatal injuries the relevant time period is two years from date of death
Latent damage Claims Six years from the date the at which some manifestation of damage arises
Maritime ClaimsProceedings must be initiated within two years of the accrual of the action -  section 46 (2) of the Civil Liability Act 1961
FraudSix years from the date fraud was discovered or could with reasonable diligence be discovered
Cargo ClaimsOne year from date goods were delivered or should have been delivered - Section 31 of the Merchant Shipping (Liability of Ship Owners and Others) Act 1996

About the Author

Helen Noble is a dual Irish and English practising solicitor with over 21 years experience specialising in all areas of maritime and transport law. In May 2016, Helen established Noble Shipping Law, Ireland’s only law firm specialising in exclusively in shipping and transport matters. Noble Shipping Law advises domestic and international clients on all aspects of shipping and related transport law in relation to their contentious and commercial shipping and transport requirements.  We advise a broad range of clients: borrowers, lenders, lessors, shipowners, shipmanagers, charterers, insurers, hauliers, transport managers, rail operators, freight forwarders, port operators and insurers and brokers.


Emergency Contacts


If you need to call our offices out of hours and at weekends, click After Office hours for a up to date list of the names of the Duty Executives and their mobile phone numbers. 

Ship Finder


This Ship Finder is updated on a daily basis. Members who need to advise the Club of updates to their recorded ships' details should advise their usual underwriting contact.