Time Bars under the jurisdiction of England and Wales
The Limitation Act 1980 is the starting point for an overview regarding the applicable limitation periods for claims brought within the jurisdiction.
It is for the defendant to plead the defence of limitation as the courts will not take the point against the claimant. In other words, a court will not of its own volition bar a claim on the ground that the claim has expired. Once the defendant has raised the defence of limitation, the burden is on the claimant to prove that time to bring the claim has not expired.
In conclusion, we suggest it is wise to be very cautious of all time limits that may apply to claims. The exact details of when a claim may have arisen, and/ or when a claimant may have had first knowledge of his claim should be strictly investigated.
Examples of Different Limitation Periods
|Nature of Claim||Time Bar|
|Simple contracts||6 years from the date of the breach of the contract |
(Section 5 Limitation Act 1980)
|Deeds||12 years from breach of obligation contained in the deed|
(excluding personal injury or death and latent damage claims)
6 years from the date of the negligent act or omission. If involves physical damage - from the date of the damage
(Section 2 Limitation Act 1980)
|Personal injury or death|
3 years from negligent act/ omission/ knowledge if later
Upon death of the injured person, 3 years for the cause of action surviving for the benefit of his estate, from the date of death or the date of the personal representative’s knowledge, whichever is the later.
(Section 11 and 12 (death) Limitation Act 1980, S.1 Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934)
(The definition of "date of knowledge" for the purposes of sections 11 and 12 can be found in section 14 of the Limitation Act.)The court has discretion to exclude this time limit if it would be equitable to do so (section 33, Limitation Act 1980).
|Personal Injury of a minor||3 years from the date of the passenger’s 18th birthday – i.e. to issue the claim before the 21st birthday.|
|Claim for Contribution|
2 years from the date of accrual for any person who becomes entitled to a right to recover contribution in respect of any damage from any other person.
(Section 10(1) Limitation Act 1980)
|Latent defects claims |
(excluding personal injury)
6 years from the date the defect occurred; or
3 years from the earliest date the claimant knew or reasonably ought to have known, material facts necessary to bring an action alleging negligence;
(Section 14A Limitation Act 1980)
Subject to a long-stop date of 15 years from date of occurrence of the negligent act or omission.
(Section 14B Limitation Act 1980)
6 years from the date cause of action accrued
(Sections 2 & 32 Limitation Act 1980)
|Defamation or malicious falsehood|
1 year from date cause of action accrued
(Section 4A Limitation Act 1980 as substituted by Section 5 Defamation Act 1996)
|Carriage of Goods by Sea|
1 year from delivery for claims against the Carrier
(Article III Rule 6 Carriage of Goods by Sea Act 1971)
2 years from the date of the casualty
(Section 190 Merchant Shipping Act 1995; Art. 7 Collision Convention 1910)
|Personal Injuries as a result of a collision||2 years from the date the damage occurs where a person travelling on a vessel used in navigation suffers personal injury as a result of another vessel.|
(Section 183 Merchant Shipping Act 1995 incorporating Athens Convention 1974, see below)
|Enforcement of an arbitration award|
6 years from the date on which the award ought to have been honoured which is normally a reasonable time from the date of the award.
(Section 7 Limitation Act 1980)
6 years from time expenditure incurred or sacrifice made unless a shorter express time limit applies
Section 5 Limitation Act 1980)
1 year after general Adjustment is issued (but within 6 years from the date of termination of the common maritime adventure)
|InterClub Agreement claims|
2 years from date of delivery of cargo or date cargo should have been delivered to provide written notification of claim – when Hague/Hague-Visby Rules
6 years from date of delivery of cargo or date cargo should have been delivered if claim is not subsequently pursued
(Section 5 Limitation Act 1980)
|Personal Injury relating to ‘passengers’ under Athens Convention 1974|
2 years from the date of disembarkation of the passenger – a strict time bar.
(Art. 16 Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea 1974)
(other than under Charter Party or Contract of Carriage)
2 years from date salvage operations were terminated
(Art. 23 International Convention on Salvage 1989 and Schedule 11 Merchant Shipping Act 1995)