The Statute of Limitations Act 1957 (as amended) provides for specific time frames in which a person must take a claim for a wrong done to them. If a person does not take a claim within the applicable limitation period then their claim can be become “statute barred”.
The amount of time a person has to bring a claim depends on the type of claim. Actions claiming damages for personal injuries arising from negligence have a limitation period of 2 years with some exceptions which are discussed below. An action for breach of contract must be brought within 6 years from the date of the contract. Actions for the recovery of land must normally be brought within 12 years. Claims relating to employment e.g. unfair dismissal must usually be brought within 6 months of the date of the action.
There are some exceptions to the time limits imposed by the Statute of Limitations. In personal injuries actions a person may take an action from the date they became aware, or it was discovered, that they had an injury. This would mean that the person would have 2 years from the date they first became aware of the injury or from when it was discovered.
The statute of limitations does not begin to run against persons under 18 years of age until the day of their 18th birthday. They then have 2 years within which to bring a claim. Accordingly if a person sustains an injury, due to the negligence of another, when they are 15 years of age the 2 year limitation period will only begin on the date of their 18th birthday.
As a general rule a claim should be brought sooner rather than later. The courts can prevent a claim from proceeding if it can be shown that delay in bringing the claim has caused prejudice to the Defendant.
It is extremely important that a person contacts a Solicitor as soon as possible after a cause of action arises. This is to ensure that the claim is issued before it becomes statute barred.
* In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or any award or settlement