Liff v Peasley: CA 1980

The court will not add a person as a defendant to an existing action if the claim was already statute-barred and he wished to rely on that defence, and if the court allows such addition ex parte it will not, on objection allow the addition to stand. Where a defendant is added under Ord.15 r.6 there is no relation back so as to treat the added party as a defendant on any date earlier than he was in fact joined. Two reasons are used : ‘The first basis is that, if the addition were allowed, it would relate back, so that the action would be deemed to have been begun as against the person added, not on the date of amendment, but on the date of the original writ; that the effect of such relation back would be to deprive the person added of an accrued defence to the claim on the ground that it was statute-barred; and that this would be unjust to that person. I shall refer to this first basis of the rule of practice as the ‘relation back’ theory. The second and alternative basis for the rule is that, where a person is added as defendant in an existing action, the action is only deemed to have been begun as against him on the date of amendment of the writ; that the defence that the claim is statute-barred therefore remains available to him; and that, since such defence affords a complete answer to the claim, it would serve no useful purpose to allow the addition to be made. I shall refer to this second and alternative basis of the rule of practice as the ‘no useful purpose’ theory.’ As to which reason was correct, and referring to the rule in Sneade v Wotherton Barytes and Lead Mining Co as to relation back: ‘This seems to me to be an entirely sensible proposition so long as the amendment concerned does not involve the addition of a new party, either as plaintiff or defendant, or the raising of a new cause of action, but involves only the modification, by addition, deletion or substitution, of pleas or averments made between existing parties in respect of a cause or causes of action already raised. Where, however, the amendment concerned involves the addition of a new party or the raising of a new cause of action, it appears to me to be unrealistic and contrary to the common sense of the matter to treat it as relating back in the same way.’
Brandon LJ, Stephenson LJ
[1980] 1 WLR 781, [1980] 1 All ER 623

Cited by:

  • Cited – Parsons and Another v George and Another CA 13-Jul-2004
    The claimant sought to begin proceedings to renew his business tenancy, but the proceedings were issued in the wrong name. He sought to amend the proceedings to substitute the correct defendant, but that application was out of time.
    Held: . .
    [2004] EWCA (Civ) 912, Times 28-Jul-04, [2004] 1 WLR 3264
  • Approved – Ketteman v Hansel Properties Ltd HL 1987
    Houses were built on defective foundations. The purchasers sued the builders and later the architects who designed them. The defendants argued that the houses were doomed from the start so that the cause of action accrued, not when the physical . .
    [1987] 2 WLR 312, [1987] AC 189
  • Cited – Evans Construction Co Ltd v Charrington and Co Ltd CA 1983
    The tenant sought a new lease and served a notice. The notice named the former landlord not the current landlord.
    Held: Order 20 could be used to correct the name where the error was a mere mistaken description of the correct party, but not a . .
    [1983] QB 810, [1983] 2 WLR 117
  • Cited – Roberts v Gill and Co Solicitors and Others SC 19-May-2010
    The claimant beneficiary in the estate sought damages against solicitors who had acted for the claimant’s brother, the administrator, saying they had allowed him to take control of the assets in the estate. The will provided that property was to be . .
    [2010] WLR (D) 130, [2010] UKSC 22, [2010] PNLR 30, [2010] WTLR 1223, [2010] 2 WLR 1227, [2011] AC 240

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 09 December 2020; Ref: scu.214460