Limitation Periods – when should you bring your claim?
Published 30 Sept 2019.
When an individual is considering whether to bring a claim forward, one of the first points they ought to consider is time limits. The Limitation (Northern Ireland) Order 1989 sets out the time limits within which a civil claim can be brought.
Essentially, failure to bring a claim within the relevant limitation period means that the defendant can plead that the claim is statute-barred (ie: can no longer be enforced) and the claimant will not be able to bring forth their claim.
Reason for Time Limits?
Bringing a claim to your solicitor’s attention early allows them to carry out extensive due diligence and gather all evidence before issuing potential proceedings. The underlying purpose of limitation periods is to protect defendants from the situation whereby they no longer have the necessary evidence to disprove the claim brought against them.
“The aim of the statutes of limitation is to prevent citizens from being oppressed by stale claims, to protect settled interests from being disturbed, to bring certainty and finality to disputes” – Natwest v Ashe 
The applicable limitation period will depend on the underlying cause of action of the claim:
|Negligence actions – personal injuries, medical negligence,
breach of duty, nuisance
|3 years from the date of the cause of action or,
if later, the Claimant’s date of knowledge
|Actions founded on tort – e.g: fraud||6 years from the date of the cause of action|
|Contract breaches||6 years from the date of the breach of contract|
|Defective products||10 years from the date of defect|
|Defamation||1 year from the cause of action|
|Recovery of land||12 years from the cause of action|
|Deeds – e.g: missing title deeds||12 years from the cause of action|