Hallam-Eames and Others v Merrett Syndicates Ltd and Others: CA 25 Jan 1995

Members of Lloyd’s who faced re-insurance underwriting liabilities alleged negligence on the part of the active underwriter, their members’ agents and their syndicates’ managing agents. Limitation defences were raised.
Held: Mere knowledge of the damage of which complaint is later made, is not sufficient to start time running. Hoffmann LJ emphasised the statutory words ‘attributable . . to the act or omission which is alleged to constitute negligence’ and explained: ‘In other words the act or omission of which the plaintiff must have knowledge must be that which is causally relevant for the purposes of an allegation of negligence . . It is this idea of causal relevance which various judges of this court have tried to express by saying the plaintiff must know ‘the essence of the act or omission to which the injury is attributable’ (Purchas LJ in Nash v Eli Lilly and Co [1993] 1WLR 782 at 799) or ‘the essential thrust of the case’ (Sir Thomas Bingham M.R. in Dobbie [1994] 1WLR 1238) or that ‘one should look at the way the plaintiff puts his case, distil what he is complaining about and ask whether he had in broad terms knowledge of the facts on which that complaint is based’ (Hoffmann LJ in Broadley [1993] 4 Med LR 328, 332)’.
Hoffmann LJ
Independent 25-Jan-1995, Times 25-Jan-1995, [2001] Lloyd’s Rep PN 178, [1995] 7 Med LR 122
Limitation Act 1980 14A
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedHaward and others v Fawcetts HL 1-Mar-2006
The claimant sought damages from his accountants, claiming negligence. The accountants pleaded limitation. They had advised him in connection with an investment in a company which investment went wrong.
Held: It was argued that the limitation . .
CitedSmith v Leicestershire Health Authority CA 29-Jan-1998
The plaintiff appealed a finding that she had sufficient knowledge of her possible claim for medical negligence against the defendants, and that she was out of time. She had known of her condition, but said she had no sufficient reason to see that . .
CitedPierce v Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council QBD 13-Dec-2007
The claimant sought damages, saying that the local authority had failed to protect him when he was a child against abuse by his parents.
Held: The claimant had been known to the authority since he was a young child, and they owed him a duty of . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 02 June 2021; Ref: scu.81173