Coad v Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Health Authority: CA 17 Jul 1996

A nurse suffered a back injury in 1983 in the course of her employment. She left the employment of the health authority in either 1990 or 1991. The judge had accepted her evidence that she did not know that she had a right of action against her employers until she left in 1991.
Held: The court should apply a subjective test of the reasons for delay in bringing an action when asked to disallow the three year limitation period. Ignorance of the law which might allow a claim was a reason for disapplying the limitation law. The court is engaged in a subjective inquiry in the sense of ascertaining what the claimant knew and what reasons in fact acted upon his mind. Having once satisfied itself as to the genuineness of the claimant’s reasons, in performing the overall exercise of deciding whether or not it is equitable to exercise the section 33 discretion in favour of the claimant, the court must consider whether or not, in all the circumstances, the reason or reasons advanced by the claimant are sufficient to be given real or decisive weight.
Lord Justice Ward said: ‘The court is required to conduct an inquiry into two factual situations. The first is the length of the delay; the second is the reason for delay on the part of the plaintiff. To add ‘on the part of the plaintiff’ indicates that it is a subjective inquiry in which the court is there engaged.’ and ‘Having found what the reason is, the court must decide whether it is a good or bad reason or, in the language of Russell LJ in Halford v Brooks [1991] 1 WLR 428, whether the plaintiff is culpable or not.’
As to whether a judge’s decision should be overturned: ‘The test is whether or not the learned judge was so plainly wrong that his decision exceeded the ambit within which reasonable disagreement is possible.’

Ward, Judge, Rose LJJ
Times 30-Jul-1996, Gazette 17-Jul-1996, [1997] 8 Med LR 154, [1997] 1 WLR 189
Limitation Act 1980 33(3)(a)
England and Wales
CitedHalford v Brooks CA 1991
The defendant had been tried for murder. The plaintiff now sought civil damages. The defendant replied that the case was brought out of time, and now appealed against the court’s extension of the time limit on the basis that the plaintiff had not . .

Cited by:
CitedMcHugh v Gray QBD 27-Jul-2006
. .
CitedSkerratt v Linfax Ltd (T/A Go Karting for Fun) CA 6-May-2003
. .
CitedBuckler v J F Finnegan Ltd CA 21-Jun-2004
The claimant sought damages for personal injuries after ingesting asbestos while employed as a joiner by the defendant. The defendant appealed an order allowing the claim to go ahead despite being out of time. . .
CitedRiddell v Wessex Regional Hospital Authority and Another CA 12-Dec-1996
. .
CitedDale v Michelin Tyre Plc CA 3-Mar-1999
. .
CitedA v Hoare QBD 8-Jul-2008
The claimant sought damages for her rape by the defendant. After his conviction and having served his sentence, the defendant won substantial sums on the lottery.
Held: The sums paid by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board were not paid by . .
CitedBurke v Ashe Construction Ltd CA 23-May-2003
. .
CitedGriffin and others v Clwyd Health Authority and others CA 14-May-2001
. .
CitedKR and others v Bryn Alyn Community (Holdings) Ltd and Another CA 12-Feb-2003
The respondent appealed decisions by the court to allow claims for personal injury out of time. The claims involved cases of sexual abuse inflicted by its employees going back over many years.
Held: The judge had misapplied the test laid down . .
CitedReed Elsevier Uk Ltd (T/A Lexisnexis) and Another v Bewry CA 30-Oct-2014
Appeal from a decision granting the claimant’s application made pursuant to section 32A of the Limitation Act 1980 to disapply the limitation period in his proceedings for libel and dismissing the defendants’ application to strike out the claimant’s . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Limitation, Personal Injury

Leading Case

Updated: 02 November 2021; Ref: scu.79241