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Limitation Period Explained


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6 May 2011

Limitation period is a fixed period laid down by legislation for bringing a case for legal proceedings. Once this limitation period is expired, legal proceedings will not take place. After the limitation period expires no claim or proceedings can be brought as the case will become statute barred under the Limitation Act 1980. However there are exceptions to this rule and example of some of these are stated below:

Limitation period in relation to personal injury claim

Under the Limitation Act 1980 section 11 it is three years. The limitation period will start to run from the date the injury was sustained or from the injured person’s date of knowledge. Section 14 (1) of the limitation act defines date of knowledge is the date when the claimant became aware of three things. Firstly, it is the date the claimant found out that the injury was significant enough to justify legal proceedings for damages against the defendant. Secondly, the date when the claimant realised that the defendant's activity caused his or her injury. Thirdly, time only starts to run once the identity of the defendant is clear and confirmed.


Knowledge is needed to enable the claimant to bring a claim. The date of knowledge does not need to be the date the injury or the accident occurred. It would be the date when the claimant realised that his or her injury is a consequences of the accident or the event which occurred. There are some injuries which may not be visible or realised at the time of the incident but later it occurred or the claimant became aware of it through a medical examination. Hence the date of knowledge is the date the symptoms occurred or through a medical examination or opinion the claimant became aware of his injury.


Although it is rare for courts to use it, nonetheless they do have some discretions to waive limitation period. The exceptions may be the circumstances of the accident or the claimant's situation or the claimant's conduct and response once he or she became aware of the injuries. Moreover when assessing delay, the Court will also assess whether the defendant acted promptly and reasonably once he or she knew that their action caused claimant injuries. Hence the Court will consider all the circumstances of the case which caused delay in proceedings the claim and if satisfied with the reason of delay, then only will extend the limitation period.

Rashidul is a Trainee Solicitor with Lawdit solicitors and can be contacted by email

About the Author

Lawdit Solicitors offer services and advice for litigation, commercial contracts, Intellectual Property and IT legal agreements. We are experts in commercial law with a heavy emphasis on Intellectual Property, Internet and e-commerce law. Lawdit is a member of the International Trademark Association, the Solicitors' Association of Higher Court Advocates and we are the appointed Solicitors to the largest webdesign association in the world, the United Kingdom Website Designers Association.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2011-06-02 12:11:27 in Legal Articles

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