Date of knowledge—section 14 of Limitation Act 1980
Date of knowledge—section 14 of Limitation Act 1980

The following Personal Injury guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Date of knowledge—section 14 of Limitation Act 1980
  • Actual or constructive
  • When is the concept likely to be relevant?
  • Applying the test
  • Assessing the claimant’s date of knowledge

Actual or constructive

Date of knowledge, defined by section 14 of the Limitation Act 1980 (LA 1980), is in fact a slightly misleading expression because it can arise when a claimant has actual knowledge of the necessary elements of the tort or when they have constructive knowledge (ie they do not actually know the necessary elements but the court treats them as if they did). This provision is therefore to be considered as part subjective and part objective, as will be seen below.

This means that the date of knowledge could occur even though a given claimant had no idea that they had been injured or that their injury might relate to something the defendant had done.

When the date of knowledge comes later than the date of injury, time will not start to run for limitation purposes until the date of knowledge. However, the burden is on the claimant to show that the date of knowledge fell on the later date.

When is the concept likely to be relevant?

Date of knowledge is most frequently relevant in cases involving industrial disease (eg noise-induced hearing loss or asbestosis) and in clinical negligence cases (particularly where the injury in question is the worsening of a condition because the clinical team failed to diagnose and treat the real source of the problem).