The statute of limitations is the amount of time permissible by law for a party to be eligible to file a lawsuit or criminal charge against a second party. Once the allotted time has passed, the case can no longer be filed and all liability is removed.
In Northern Ireland, the Limitation Act of 1989 governs all financial and contractual debts. If a creditor fails to keep some form of contact with a debtor for six years, that debtor is considered released from his or her responsibilities and the debt is from that time forward governed by the Statute of Limitations. There is not statute of limitations governing criminal acts in Northern Ireland.
The function of the Statute of Limitations in regards to old debt is to enforce the fact that a contract is a two-party agreement and that both parties share the responsibility for it. If a creditor was not forced to keep in contact with a debtor, the creditor could bring any form of fees, interest or other penalties without the knowledge of the debtor thus resulting in an unknown final charge.
The Statute of Limitations is just one part of the larger set of laws and practices that differ by nation and ensure the fair collection of debt by creditors and establish rights for those in debt. Bankruptcy will override statutes and erase any eligible debt whether or not it meets the guidelines of the limitations act.