Limitation—contract claims

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

  • Limitation—contract claims
  • General
  • Contracts of loan
  • Claims made under the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999
  • Accrual on breach
  • When does time start running?
  • Examples
  • When does time start running—agreement between the parties
  • When does time start running—fraud, concealment or mistake
  • When does time start running—acknowledgment or part payment
  • More...

Limitation—contract claims

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


Generally, the limitation period for bringing a claim for breach of contract is:

  1. six years from the date of breach of a 'simple contract' (one which is not under seal or a contract of record) (see Gould v Johnson) this includes:

    1. a restitutionary claim for unjust enrichment ('money had and received')

    2. certain claims (by analogy) for breach of fiduciary duty

    3. claims for breach of a settlement agreement scheduled to a Tomlin Order, in which case the relevant date for determining when time stops running for limitation purposes will be the date on which an application to lift the stay and enforce the Tomlin Order (ie enforce the terms of the settlement agreement) is made. For further information, see News Analysis: Settled Law? The impact of the Limitation Act 1980 on settlement agreements (Bostani v Pieper)

  2. six years from the date of breach of a contract to:

    1. recover arrears of rent, and

    2. mortgage interest

  3. twelve years from the date of breach of a speciality contract, ie a contract under seal being:

    1. a deed (most commonly, and note that a physical seal is no longer necessary to make a deed a ‘speciality’ for the purposes of LA 1980, s 8 (Liberty Partnership Limited see para [54] onwards))

    2. some debts due from the

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