Limitation Act 1939

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
Citation1939 c. 21


Limitation Act, 1939

(2 & 3 Geo. 6.) 21.

An Act to consolidate with amendments certain enactments relating to the limitation of actions and arbitrations.

[25th May 1939]

B e it enacted by the King's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

I Periods of Limitation for Different Classes of Action.

Part I.

Periods of Limitation for Different Classes ofAction.

S-1 Part I to be subject to provisions of Part II relating to disability, acknowledgment, fraud, &c.

1 Part I to be subject to provisions of Part II relating to disability, acknowledgment, fraud, &c.

The provisions of this Part of this Act shall have effect subject to the provisions of Part II of this Act which provide for the extension of the periods of limitation in the case of disability, acknowledgment, part payment, fraud and mistake.

Actions of contract and tort and certain other actions.

Actions of contract and tort and certain other actions.

S-2 Limitation of actions of contract and tort, and certain other actions.

2 Limitation of actions of contract and tort, and certain other actions.

(1) The following actions shall not be brought after the expiration of six years from the date on which the cause of action accrued, that is to say:—

( a ) actions founded on simple contract or on tort;

( b ) actions to enforce a recognisance;

( c ) actions to enforce an award, where the submission is not by an instrument under seal;

( d ) actions to recover any sum recoverable by virtue of any enactment, other than a penalty or forfeiture or sum by way of penalty or forfeiture.

(2) An action for an account shall not be brought in respect of any matter which arose more than six years before the commencement of the action.

(3) An action upon a specialty shall not be brought after the expiration of twelve years from the date on which the cause of action accrued:

Provided that this subsection shall not affect any action for which a shorter period of limitation is prescribed by any other provision of this Act.

(4) An action shall not be brought upon any judgment after the expiration of twelve years from the date on which the judgment became enforceable, and no arrears of interest in respect of any judgment debt shall be recovered after the expiration of six years from the date on which the interest became due.

(5) An action to recover any penalty or forfeiture, or sum by way of penalty or forfeiture, recoverable by virtue of any enactment shall not be brought after the expiration of two years from the date on which the cause of action accrued:

Provided that for the purposes of this subsection the expression ‘penalty’ shall not include a fine to which any person is liable on conviction of a criminal offence.

(6) Subsection (1) of this section shall apply to an action to recover seamen's wages, but save as aforesaid this section shall not apply to any cause of action within the Admiralty jurisdiction of the High Court which is enforceable in rem.

(7) This section shall not apply to any claim for specific performance of a contract or for an injunction or for other equitable relief, except in so far as any provision thereof may be applied by the Court by analogy in like manner as the corresponding enactment repealed by this Act has heretofore been applied.

S-3 Limitation in case of successive conversions and extinction of title of owner of converted goods.

3 Limitation in case of successive conversions and extinction of title of owner of converted goods.

(1) Where any cause of action in respect of the conversion or wrongful detention of a chattel has accrued to any person and, before he recovers possession of the chattel, a further conversion or wrongful detention takes place, no action shall be brought in respect of the further conversion or detention after the expiration of six years from the accrual of the cause of action in respect of the original conversion or detention.

(2) Where any such cause of action has accrued to any person and the period prescribed for bringing that action and for bringing any action in respect of such a further conversion or wrongful detention as aforesaid has expired and he has not during that period recovered possession of the chattel, the title of that person to the chattel shall be extinguished.

Actions to recover land, advowsons and rent.

Actions to recover land, advowsons and rent.

S-4 Limitation of actions to recover land.

4 Limitation of actions to recover land.

(1) No action shall be brought by the Crown to recover any land after the expiration of thirty years from the date on which the right of action accrued to the Crown or, if it first accrued to some person through whom the Crown claims, to that person:

Provided that an action to recover foreshore may be brought by the Crown at any time before the expiration of sixty years from the said date, and where any right of action to recover land, which has ceased to be foreshore but remains in the ownership of the Crown, accrued when the land was foreshore, the action may be brought at any time before the expiration of sixty years from the date of the accrual of the right of action, or of thirty years from the date when the land ceased to be foreshore, whichever period first expires.

(2) No action shall be brought by any spiritual or eleemosynary corporation sole to recover any land after the expiration of thirty years from the date on which the right of action accrued to the corporation sole or, if it first accrued to some person through whom the corporation sole claims, to that person.

(3) No action shall be brought by any other person to recover any land after the expiration of twelve years from the date on which the right of action accrued to him or, if it first accrued to some person through whom he claims, to that person:

Provided that, if the right of action first accrued to the Crown or a spiritual or eleemosynary corporation sole through whom the person bringing the action claims, the action may be brought at any time before the expiration of the period during which the action could have been brought by the Crown or the corporation sole, or of twelve years from the date on which the right of action accrued to some person other than the Crown or the corporation sole, whichever period first expires.

S-5 Accrual of right of action in case of present interests in land.

5 Accrual of right of action in case of present interests in land.

(1) Where the person bringing an action to recover land, or some person through whom he claims, has been in possession thereof, and has while entitled thereto been dispossessed or discontinued his possession, the right of action shall be deemed to have accrued on the date of the dispossession or discontinuance.

(2) Where any person brings an action to recover any land of a deceased person, whether under a will or on intestacy, and the deceased person was on the date of his death in possession of the land or, in the case of a rentcharge created by will or taking effect upon his death, in possession of the land charged, and was the last person entitled to the land to be in possession thereof, the right of action shall be deemed to have accrued on the date of his death.

(3) Where any person brings an action to recover land, being an estate or interest in possession assured otherwise than by will to him, or to some person through whom he claims, by a person who, at the date when the assurance took effect, was in possession of the land or, in the case of a rentcharge created by the assurance, in possession of the land charged, and no person has been in possession of the land by virtue of the assurance, the right of action shall be deemed to have accrued on the date when the assurance took effect.

S-6 Accrual of right of action in case of future interests.

6 Accrual of right of action in case of future interests.

(1) Subject as hereafter in this section provided, the right of action to recover any land shall, in a case where the estate or interest claimed was an estate or interest in reversion or remainder or any other future estate or interest and no person has taken possession of the land by virtue of the estate or interest claimed, be deemed to have accrued on the date on which the estate or interest fell into possession by the determination of the preceding estate or interest.

(2) If the person entitled to the preceding estate or interest, not being a term of years absolute, was not in possession of the land on the date of the determination thereof, no action shall be brought by the person entitled to the succeeding estate or interest after the expiration of twelve years from the date on which the sight of action accrued to the person entitled to the preceding estate or interest, or six years from the date on which the right of action accrued to the person entitled to the succeeding estate or interest, whichever period last expires:

Provided that, where the Crown or a spiritual or eleemosynary corporation sole is entitled to the succeeding estate or interest, the foregoing provisions of this subsection shall have effect with the substitution for the reference to twelve years of a reference to thirty years, and for the reference to six years of a reference to twelve years.

(3) The foregoing provisions of this section shall not apply to any estate or interest which falls into possession on the determination of an entailed interest and which might have been barred by the person entitled to the entailed interest.

(4) No person shall bring an action to recover any estate or interest in land under an...

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