Limitation Act 1980—general application
Limitation Act 1980—general application

The following Dispute Resolution guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Limitation Act 1980—general application
  • The function of limitation periods
  • When does the Limitation Act 1980 apply?
  • Determining the limitation period
  • Failure to pay the correct court fee
  • Abuse of process
  • Standstill agreements
  • Protective proceedings
  • Extension or exclusion of time limits
  • Effect of a limitation period expiring
  • more

In this Practice Note, the Limitation Act 1980 is referred to as LA 1980.

The function of limitation periods

Statutory limitation periods seek to regulate the balance between interests which compete and sometimes conflict:

  1. the interest of the claimant in having the most extensive opportunity to pursue claims for legal redress, and

  2. the interest of the defendant in not having to defend stale proceedings because:

    1. it is unfair for the 'sword of Damocles' to hang over him indefinitely

    2. the passage of time causes memory to fade and evidence to be lost

When does the Limitation Act 1980 apply?

LA 1980 is the key statutory framework setting out the circumstances when a limitation defence may or may not be taken.

LA 1980, Part I sets out the time limits, broadly identifying how long a claimant has to 'bring actions' against another party. For an overview of the principal limitation periods under LA 1980, see Practice Note: Limitation—the principal limitation periods. Note also that 'actions' includes 'any proceeding in a court of law, including an ecclesiastical court' (LA 1980, s 38(1)), and LA 1980 applies to arbitral proceedings as it applies to legal proceedings (under section 13 of the Arbitration Act 1996 (AA 1996)).

LA 1980, Part II sets out the circumstances under which the ‘ordinary time limits’ provided by LA 1980, Part