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Limitation Act 1980 (-)
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This document is for private study purposes only. It is likely not to reflect the law as it stands today. It may be incomplete, and some provisions are likely to have been repealed or amended, and new ones inserted.
Time limits under Part I subject to extension or exclusion under Part II.
(1) This Part of this Act gives the ordinary time limits for bringing actions of the various classes mentioned in the following provisions of this Part.
(2) The ordinary time limits given in this Part of this Act are subject to extension or exclusion in accordance with the provisions of Part II of this Act.
2. Time limit for actions founded on tort
An action founded on tort shall not be brought after the expiration of six years from the date on which the cause of action accrued.
Time limit in case of successive conversions and extinction of title of owner of converted goods.
(1) Where any cause of action in respect of the conversion of a chattel has accrued to any person and, before he recovers possession of the chattel, a further conversion take place, no action shall be brought in respect of the further conversion after the expiration of six years from the accrual of the cause of action in respect of the original conversion.
(2) Where any such cause of action has accrued to any person and the period prescribed for bringing that action has expired and he has not during that period recovered possession of the chattel, the title of that person to the chattel shall be extinguished.
Special time limit in case of theft.
(1) The right of any person from whom a chattel is stolen to bring an action in respect of the theft shall not be subject to the time limits under sections 2 and 3(1) of this Act, but if his title to the chattel is extinguished under section 3(2) of this Act he may not bring an action in respect of a theft preceding the loss of his title, unless the theft in question preceded the conversion from which time began to run for the purposes of section 3(2).
(2) Subsection (1) above shall apply to any conversion related to the theft of a chattel as it applies to the theft of a chattel; and, except as provided below, every conversion following the theft of a chattel before the person from whom it is stolen recovers possession of it shall be regarded for the purposes of this section as related to the theft.
If anyone purchases the stolen chattel in good faith neither the purchase nor any conversion following it shall be regarded as related to the theft.
(3) Any cause of action accruing in respect of the theft or any conversion related to the theft of a chattel to any person from whom the chattel is stolen shall be disregarded for the purpose of applying section 3(1) or (2) of this Act to his case.
(4) Where in any action brought in respect of the conversion of a chattel it is proved that the chattel was stolen from the plaintiff or anyone through whom he claims it shall be presumed that any conversion following the theft is related to the theft unless the contrary is shown.
(5) In this section “theft” includes—
(a) any conduct outside England and Wales which would be theft if committed in England and Wales; and
(b) obtaining any chattel (in England and Wales or elsewhere) in the circumstances described in section 15(1) of the M1 Theft Act 1968 (obtaining by deception) or by blackmail within the meaning of section 21 of that Act;
and references in this section to a chattel being “stolen” shall be construed accordingly.
Time limit for actions for defamation or malicious falsehood.
4A:The time limit under section 2 of this Act shall not apply to an action for
(a) libel or slander, or
(b) slander of title, slander of goods or other malicious falsehood,
but no such action shall be brought after the expiration of one year from the date on which the cause of action accrued.
5. Time limit for actions founded on simple contract
An action founded on simple contract shall not be brought after the expiration of six years from the date on which the cause of action accrued.
Special time limit for actions in respect of certain loans.
(1) Subject to subsection (3) below, section 5 of this Act shall not bar the right of action on a contract of loan to which this section applies.
(2) This section applies to any contract of loan which—
(a) does not provide for repayment of the debt on or before a fixed or determinable date; and
(b) does not effectively (whether or not it purports to do so) make the obligation to repay the debt conditional on a demand for repayment made by or on behalf of the creditor or on any other matter; except where in connection with taking the loan the debtor enters into any collateral obligation to pay the amount of the debt or any part of it (as, for example, by delivering a promissory note as security for the debt) on terms which would exclude the application of this section to the contract of loan if they applied directly to repayment of the debt.
(3) Where a demand in writing for repayment of the debt under a contract of loan to which this section applies is made by or on behalf of the creditor (or, where there are joint creditors, by or on behalf of any one of them) section 5 of this Act shall thereupon apply as if the cause of action to recover the debt had accrued on the date on which the demand was made.
(4) In this section “promissory note” has the same meaning as in the Bills of Exchange Act 1882.
(1) An action upon a specialty shall not be brought after the expiration of twelve years from the date on which the cause of action accrued.
(2) Subsection (1) above shall not affect any action for which a shorter period of limitation is prescribed by any other provision of this Act.
(1) An action to recover any sum recoverable by virtue of any enactment shall not be brought after the expiration of six years from the date on which the case of action accrued
(1) Where under section 1 of the Civil Liability (Contribution) Act 1978 any person becomes entitled to a right to recover contribution in respect of any damage from any other person, no action to recover contribution by virtue of that right shall be brought after the expiration of two years from the date on which that right accrued.
(2) For the purposes of this section the date on which a right to recover contribution in respect of any damage accrues to any person (referred to below in this section as "the relevant date") shall be ascertained as provided in subsections (3) and (4) below.
(3) If the person in question is held liable in respect of that damage—
(a) by a judgment given in any civil proceedings; or
(b) by an award made on any arbitration;
the relevant date shall be the date on which the judgment is given, or the date of the award (as the case may be).
For the purposes of this subsection no account shall be taken of any judgment or award given or made on appeal in so far as it varies the amount of damages awarded against the person in question.
(4) If, in any case not within subsection (3) above, the person in question makes or agrees to make any payment to one or more persons in compensation for that damage (whether he admits any liability in respect of the damage or not), the relevant date shall be the earliest date on which the amount to be paid by him is agreed between him (or his representative) and the person (or each of the persons, as the case may be) to whom the payment is to be made.
Special time limit for actions in respect of personal injuries
(1) This section applies to any action for damages for negligence, nuisance or breach of duty (whether the duty exists by virtue of a contract or of provision made by or under a statute or independently of any contract or any such provision) where the damages claimed by the plaintiff for the negligence, nuisance or breach of duty consist of or include damages in respect of personal injuries to the plaintiff or any other person.
(2) None of the time limits given in the preceding provisions of this Act shall apply to an action to which this section applies.
(3) An action to which this section applies shall not be brought after the expiration of the period applicable in accordance with subsection (4) … below.
(4) . . . [T]he period applicable is three years from – (a) the date on which the cause of action accrued; or (b) the date of knowledge (if later) of the person injured."
. . .
(5) For the purposes of this section, the starting date for reckoning the period of limitation under sub-section (4)(b) above [i.e. three years] is the earliest date upon which the plaintiff or any person in whom the cause of action was vested before him first had both the knowledge required for bringing an action for damages in respect of the relevant damage and a right to bring such an action.
(6) In subsection (5) above "the knowledge required for bringing an action for damages in respect of the relevant damage" means knowledge both:-
(a) of the material facts about the damage in respect of which damages are claimed; and
(b) of the other facts relevant to the current action mentioned in subsection (8) below.
(7) For the purposes of subsection (6)(a) above, the material facts about the damage are such facts about the damage as would lead a reasonable person who had suffered such damage to consider it sufficiently serious to justify his instituting proceedings for damages against a defendant who did not dispute liability and was able to satisfy a judgment.
(8) The other facts referred to in subsection (6)(b) above are -
(a) that the damage was attributable in whole or in part to the act or omission which is alleged to constitute negligence; and
(b) the identity of the defendant; and
(c) if it is alleged that the act or omission was that of a person other than the defendant, the identity of that person and the additional facts supporting the bringing of an action against the defendant.
(9) Knowledge that any acts or omissions did or did not, as a matter of law, involve negligence is irrelevant for the purposes of subsection (5) above.
(10) For the purposes of this section a person's knowledge includes knowledge which he might reasonably have been expected to acquire . .
(a) from facts observable or ascertainable by him; or
(b) from facts ascertainable by him with the help of appropriate expert advice which it is reasonable for him to seek; but a person shall not be taken by virtue of this subsection to have knowledge of a fact ascertainable only with the help of expert advice so long as he has taken all reasonable steps to obtain (and, where appropriate, to act on) that advice.
(1) No action shall be brought by any person to recover any land after the expiration of twelve years from the date on which the right of action accrued to him or, if it first accrued to some person through whom he claims, to that person.
(6) Part I of Schedule I to this Act contains provisions for determining the date of accrual of rights of action to recover land in the cases there mentioned.
17.-- Extinction of title after expiration of time limit
Subject to . . . at the expiration of the period prescribed by this Act for any person to bring an action to recover land the title of that person to the land shall be extinguished.
(1) No action shall be brought to recover-
(a) any principal sum of money secured by a mortgage or other charge on property (whether real or personal); or
(b) proceeds of the sale of land;
after the expiration of twelve years from the date on which the right to receive the money accrued.
(1) No period of limitation prescribed by this Act shall apply to an action by a beneficiary under a trust, being an action-
(a) in respect of any fraud or fraudulent breach of trust to which the trustee was a party or privy; or
(b) to recover from the trustee trust property or the proceeds of trust property in the possession of the trustee, or previously received by the trustee and converted to his use.
(3) Subject to the preceding provisions of this section, an action by a beneficiary to recover trust property or in respect of any breach of trust, not being an action for which a limitation period is prescribed by any other provision of this Act, shall not be brought after the expiration of six years from the date on which the right of action accrued.
23.-- Time limit in respect of action for an account
An action for an account shall not be brought after the expiration of any time limit under this Act which is applicable to the claim which is the basis of the duty to account.
(1) An action shall not be brought upon any judgment after the expiration of six years from the date on which the judgment became enforceable.
(2) No arrears of interest in respect of any judgment debt shall be recovered after the expiration of six years from the date on which the interest became due.
(2) If the person in possession of the land....in question acknowledges the title of the person to whom the right of action has accrued-
(5) Subject to subsection (6) below, where any right of action has accrued to recover
and the person liable or accountable for the claim acknowledges the claim or makes any payment in respect of it the right shall be treated as having accrued on and not before the date of acknowledgment or payment.
(1) To be effective for the purposes of section 29 of this Act, an acknowledgement must be in writing and signed by the person making it.
(2) For the purposes of section 29, any acknowledgement ...-
(a) may be made by the agent of the person by whom it is required to be made under that section ; and
(b) shall be made to the person, or to an agent of the person whose title or claim is being acknowledged, or, as the case may be, in respect of whose claim the payment is being made.
(1) An acknowledgement of the title to any land.....by any person in possession of it shall bind all other persons in possession during the ensuing period of limitation.
(1) If it appears to the court that it would be equitable to allow an action to proceed having regard to the degree to which -
(a) the provisions of section 11… of this Act prejudice the plaintiff or any person whom he represents; and
(b) any decision of the court under this sub section would prejudice the defendant or any person who he represents;
the court may direct that those provisions shall not apply to the action, or shall not apply to any specified course of action to which the action relates.
. . .
(3) In acting under this section the Court shall have regard to all the circumstances of the case and in particular to:-
(a) the length of, and the reasons for, the delay on the part of the plaintiff;
(b) the extent to which, having regard to the delay, the evidence adduced or likely to be adduced by the plaintiff or the defendant is or is likely to be less cogent than if the action had been brought within the time allowed by section 11 . . . ;
(c) the conduct of the defendant after the cause of action arose, including the extent (if any) to which he responded to requests reasonably made by the defendant for information or inspection for the purpose of ascertaining facts which were or might be relevant to the plaintiff's cause of action against the defendant;
(d) the duration of any disability of the plaintiff arising after the date of the accrual of the cause of action;
(e) the extent to which the plaintiff acted promptly and reasonably once he knew whether or not the act or omission of the defendant, to which the injury was attributable, might be capable at that time of giving rise to an action for damages;
(f) the steps, if any, taken by the plaintiff to obtain medical, legal or other expert advice and the nature of any such advice he may have received.
(1) For the purposes of this Act, any new claim made in the course of any action shall be deemed to be a separate action and to have been commenced-
(a) in the case of a new claim made in or by way of third party proceedings, on the date on which those proceedings were commenced; and
(b) in the case of any other new claim, on the same date as the original action.
(2) In this section a new claim means any claim by way of set-off or counterclaim, and any claim involving either—
(a) the addition or substitution of a new cause of action; or
(b) the addition or substitution of a new party;
and "third party proceedings" means any proceedings brought in the course of any action by any party to the action against a person not previously a party to the action, other than proceedings brought by joining any such person as defendant to any claim already made in the original action by the party bringing the proceedings.
(3) Except as provided by section 33 of this Act or by rules of court, neither the High Court nor any county court shall allow a new claim within subsection (1)(b) above, other than an original set-off or counterclaim, to be made in the course of any action after the expiry of any time limit under this Act which would affect a new action to enforce that claim.
For the purposes of this subsection, a claim is an original set-off or an original counterclaim if it is a claim made by way of set-off or (as the case may be) by way of counterclaim by a party who has not previously made any claim in the action.
(4) Rules of court may provide for allowing a new claim to which subsection (3) above applies to be made as there mentioned, but only if the conditions specified in subsection (5) below are satisfied, and subject to any further restrictions the rules may impose.
(5) The conditions referred to in subsection (4) above are the following
(a) in the case of a claim involving a new cause of action, if the new cause of action arises out of the same facts or substantially the same facts as are already in issue on any claim previously made in the original action; and
(b) in the case of a claim involving a new party, if the addition or substitution of the new party is necessary for the determination of the original action.
(6) The addition or substitution of a new party shall not be regarded for the purposes of subsection 5(b) above as necessary for the determination of the original action unless either- ,
(a) the new party is substituted for a party whose name was given in any claim in the original action in mistake for the new party's name; or
(b) any claim made in the original action cannot be maintained by or against an existing party unless the new party is joined or substituted as plaintiff or defendant in that action.
1 Where the person bringing an action to recover land, or some person through whom he claims, has been in possession of the land, and has while entitled to the land been dispossessed or discontinued his possession, the right of action shall be treated as having accrued on the date of the dispossession or discontinuance.
(1) No right of action to recover land shall be treated as accruing unless the land is in the possession of some person in whose favour the period of limitation can run (referred to below in this paragraph as 'adverse possession'); and where under the preceding provisions of this Schedule any such right of action is treated as accruing on a certain date and no person is in adverse possession on that date, the right of action shall not be treated as accruing unless and until adverse possession is taken of the land.
. . .
(4) For the purpose of determining whether a person occupying any land is in adverse possession of the land it shall not be assumed by implication of law that his occupation is by permission of the person entitled to the land merely by virtue of the fact that his occupation is not inconsistent with the latter's present or future enjoyment of the land.
This provision shall not be taken as prejudicing a finding to the effect that a person's occupation of any land is by implied permission of the person entitled to the land in any case where such a finding is justified on the actual facts of the case.
. . .
(6) Where any settled land or any land held on trust for sale is in the possession of a person entitled to a beneficial interest in the land or in the proceeds of sale (not being a person solely or absolutely entitled to the land or the proceeds), no right of action to recover the land shall be treated for the purposes of this Act as accruing during that possession to any person in whom the land is vested as tenant for life, statutory owner or trustee, or to any other person entitled to a beneficial interest in the land or the proceeds of sale. [NOW REPEALED]
(1) . . . A tenancy from year to year or other period, without a lease in writin, shall for the purposes of this Act be treated as being determined at the expiration of the first year or other period; and accordingly the right of action of the person entitled to the land subject to the tenancy shall be trated as having accrued at the date on which in accordance with this subparapraoh the tenancy is determined.
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