- Have I issued my claim in time? Let me count the days (Matthew v Sedman)
- What are the practical implications of this case?
- Midnight deadlines—when does a cause of action accrue?
- Is the day on which a cause of action accrues excluded from the computation of time?
- What was the background?
- What did the court decide?
- Case details
Dispute Resolution analysis: The Supreme Court has ruled that if a cause of action accrues at midnight, the first day of the limitation period starts the next day. For limitation purposes, if a cause of action accrues part way through a day, that day is excluded from the computation of time. This distinction is key for parties who (as in this case) issue a claim right at the end of the limitation period and where the cause of action accrues at midnight. The Supreme Court rejected the argument that the day on which a cause of action accrues should be excluded for the purposes of calculating time in all cases. It held that in relation to ‘midnight deadline’ cases, the following day is a ‘complete undivided day’ and excluding it from the computation of time would prejudice defendants by lengthening the statutory limitation period by a complete day. Written by Harriet Campbell, professional support lawyer at Stephenson Harwood LLP.
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