Delaying bringing a claim may mean you are too late to bring one at all


The Limitation Act 1980 (“LA 1980”) imposes rules limiting the time in which legal action can be brought against another party. These are referred to as ‘Limitation Periods’.

For instance, you may have suffered personal injury due to a fall at work.  From the date that you become aware of the negligence of your employer, or from the date the negligence has been admitted by your employer, you, as a claimant, have 3 years to make a claim. This is the limitation period.

A claim will not be actionable and you will lose any right you may have for compensation, unless you are within the limitation period; your case is settled or court proceedings are issued.

If a claimant brings an action outside the limitation period, the defendant may use the defence of ‘limitation’, to show that the claimant has missed the time to bring a claim.


A ‘protected party’ is a party, or an intended party, who lacks capacity to conduct the proceedings in accordance with the provisions of the Mental Health Act 1983.

A child (under the age of 18) automatically lacks capacity to conduct proceedings and is therefore automatically a protected party.

A protected party must have a ‘litigation friend’ to conduct proceedings on their behalf. The most common litigation friend is known as the ‘Official Solicitor’.


As a general rule, the answer is yes. For children, the limitation period does not begin until the child turns 18 and so the child has until their 21st birthday to start a claim.

For other protected parties, for example someone who lacks capacity, the time limit runs from the date they regain capacity.


We have listed many common limitation periods below for ease of reference. This list is NOT comprehensive and merely sets out some examples.  Time limits apply in all areas of law, not just those mentioned below, such as a claim for discrimination under the Equality Act.

If you have any queries regarding limitation periods, please contact John Gorner and his team of solicitors who can offer free and impartial initial advice.


General negligence:  Within 6 years of the negligent act or omission OR within 3 years of the date of knowledge in cases of latent damage. However, negligent latent damage is barred after 15 years from the negligent act or omission.

Personal injury or death:  Within 3 years of the negligent act or omission OR within 3 years of the date of knowledge.

Judicial reviews (for example, challenging a Council’s decision in a community care matter):  Within 3 months of the date of the decision or the last decision in a series of decisions. However, a claim must be brought as soon as possible without delay. When a claim has been delayed in being brought, it may be thrown out, even if it is within the 3 month period.

Fraud: Within 6 years of the date the cause of action. The cause of action is the date at which the fraud has been discovered.

Defamation (libel and slander):  Within 1 year of the cause of action or the last in a series of actions.

Contract: Within 6 years of the date of breach. The limitation period cannot be extended on the grounds of latent damage, like in tort claims.

Deeds: Within 12 years of the breach of the deed.

Rent Arrears:  Within 6 years of the due date of the rent.

An action for a non-fraudulent breach of trust:  Within 6 years of the date on which the right of action.

An action claiming personal estate of a deceased person: Within 12 years of the date the right to receive the share or interest.

Enforcing a judgment:  Within 6 years of the date upon which the judgment became enforceable.

John Gorner

John is head of our civil litigation department which includes specialist housing (landlord and tenant) and community care law teams. John acts predominantly for individuals battling against authority and his client demographic are children, the socially and economically disadvantaged and those with mental impairment. As such he often acts for the Official Solicitor. Email John at or call us on: 0161 928 9321

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