Statute of Limitations: How Long Do I Have to Make My Claim?

What You Should Know About Limitation Periods
December 17, 2019

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You might be considering bringing a legal claim against another person or a business, but you might think it doesn’t matter when you start your claim. However, even if you know they are at fault, you do not have an indefinite timeframe to start your claim. Instead, your time to bring a claim is restricted by the Limitation Act, known as the Statute of Limitations.

What Is the Statute of Limitations?

The Statute of Limitations sets out time scales for starting legal action regarding a range of different things. Although, the limitation periods it defines are for non-criminal matters such as:

  • Debt recovery
  • Civil fraud
  • Personal injury
  • Housing disputes
  • Consumer disputes
  • Negligence claims

Once these time limits have passed, you cannot bring that claim any more. In legal terms, it will become ‘statute barred.’ We’ve listed some of the more common periods people ask about later in this post.

Also, the UK does not apply limitations on criminal cases, unlike some other countries.

How Is the Statute of Limitations Applied?

The Limitation Act provides general limitation periods for several types of legal case. However, these are referred to as ‘ordinary’ time limits as there are circumstances where they could be different.

These are applied from the earliest time at which action could be brought. What that means is, if you have a personal injury case, the timer starts the day after your accident. Or, if there is fraud involved in the case, then the timer starts from when the fraud has been discovered.

All ordinary time limits set out can be found on the government legislation website, but we have outlined a few below.

What Are the Limitations for My Case?

As mentioned, there is a complete list on the government website. But, that is quite a lengthy document. So, we’ve highlighted a few types of cases where you might want to know the limitation period.

Simple Contract Dispute – 6 years

Personal Injury Claim – 3 years

Fatal Accident Claim – 3 years

Negligence Claim – 3-6 years

Defamation and malicious falsehood – 1 year

Can the Statute of Limitation be Extended?

We’ve already touched upon the fact that limitation periods may only start after reasonable discovery. That can be called the date of knowledge, and the timer starts from that date in some cases.

Or, your solicitor may sometimes enter a standstill agreement. This would be agreed by both sides of a claim to pause the limitation period, allowing for further investigations.