Extending the limitation period in clinical negligence claims

The following PI & Clinical Negligence practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Extending the limitation period in clinical negligence claims
  • Section 33 of the Limitation Act 1980
  • The court’s approach to section 33
  • The court’s discretion under section 33
  • Limitation period

Extending the limitation period in clinical negligence claims

Coronavirus (COVID-19): The COVID-19 Clinical Negligence Protocol (2020) (last updated on 8 June 2021) has been created to adapt clinical negligence claims handling and litigation processes during the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. In particular, the Protocol deals with limitation and allows for limitation to be suspended until three months after the end of the protocol, provided that written notification in the form of a letter is provided to the indemnifying body before the limitation period has expired. It is proposed that the protocol should be reviewed every eight weeks. For details, see Practice Note: Coronavirus (COVID-19) implications for PI and clinical negligence—Case management of clinical negligence claims.

Section 33 of the Limitation Act 1980

Section 33(1) of the Limitation Act 1980 (LA 1980) allows the court to extend the three-year limitation period under LA 1980, s 11, if it is equitable to do so, having regard to the degree to which the provisions of LA 1980, s 11 prejudice the claimant and the extent that any decision of the court, exerting its discretion under LA 1980, s 33 would prejudice the defendant.

The court has the widest discretion possible under LA 1980, s 33 to create fairness and justice between the parties.

LA 1980, s 33(3) requires a court, when deciding whether to disapply the primary limitation period, to have regard to all the

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