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Time limits for action in civil matters

While the time limits laid down by the Limitation Act 1980 is ordinarily three years from the “date of knowledge of the person injured” there are arguments available that the strict three years limitation should not apply in some cases.

Under part 2 of the Appendix to the above Act, under section 28 could be argued, using the 23rd June 2000 Kapadia v London Borough of Lambeth Appeal Court judgment, that a person with depression is thereby disabled, and that the applicable period for taking action is at least six years.

While the Law Commission’s 6th January 1998 consultation paper does not have legal status, nevertheless it demonstrates a legal perspective worth quoting. Their provisional view was “ that there should be an initial period of limitation of three years, that would start from the date the plaintive discoverers, or ought reasonably to discover that he has a legal claim against the defendant..…The initial limitation period would be extended where the plaintiff was under a disability, that is, where the plaintiff lacks the capacity to make or communicate decisions, or is under eighteen.” (My emphasis here)

In any event, under the Limitation Act 1980, under S. 33, “the Judge has discretionary powers to disapply any time limits, and it could reasonably be argued that in view of the disabling nature of depressive illness on its subject, the Judge ought to exercise that discretion.

Refs: Limitation Act 1980

Law Commission Consultation Paper 6/1/98 (@ www.lawcom.gov.uk/453.htm)


Time limits and the last straw doctrine

An employee can rely on the 'last straw doctrine' where their employer has perpetrated a series of actions that cumulatively amount to a fundamental breach of the implied term of mutual trust and confidence. An employee does not need to show that their employer's actions are close together in time. See http://www.personneltoday.com/pt_legal/legal_features_det.asp?ID=15280