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Statute of Limitations Laws in the UK

Updated February 21, 2017

In UK law, limitations are placed on how long a person can wait before bringing cases of particular types. The various Limitation Acts, predominantly but not exclusively the Limitation Act 1980, are the major codifiers of statues of limitations in the UK. These limits exist to ensure the smooth operation of justice in the UK by providing that cases will be brought when evidence can still be gathered reliably.

The Standard Limitation Period

The majority of claims are limited to 6 years under the Limitation Act 1980. This limit includes claims under contract law and for most torts (but not all). Due to their potential complexity, many land law claims are limited to a longer period of 12 years. Similarly, "actions on a speciality" as defined by section 8 of the 1980 Act are also limited to 12 years.

Negligence Claims

For the majority of claims under the tort of negligence, section 14A of the Limitation Act 1980 requires that claims be brought within 6 years of the tort being committed. However, for personal injury cases section 11 of the 1980 Act requires that claims be brought within 3 years. This shorter period is due to the seriousness of the claims and the need to collect potentially time-sensitive evidence.

Breach of Trust

Unlike the majority of other actions discussed in the Limitation Acts, section 21 of the Limitation Act 1980 specifically excludes cases of fraudulent breach of trust. The result is that there is no time limit for fraudulent breach of trust cases, although section 21 limits other breach of trust cases to 6 years.

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About the Author

Based in the United Kingdom, April Kohl has been writing since 1992, specializing in science and legal topics. Her work has appeared on the Second Life News Network website and in British Mensa's "LSQ" magazine. Kohl holds a Bachelor of Science in physics from Durham University and a diploma in English law from the Open University.