Limitation Act 1963

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
Citation1963 c. 47


Limitation Act 1963

1963 CHAPTER 47

An Act to extend in certain cases the time-limit for bringing legal proceedings where damages are claimed which consist of or include damages or solatium in respect of personal injuries (including any disease or impairment of a person's physical or mental condition) or in respect of a person's death; to limit the time within which proceedings for contribution may be brought under section 6 of the Law Reform (Married Women and Tortfeasors) Act 1935 or section 3 (2) of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1940; to make further provision as to the application of the Limitation (Enemies and War Prisoners) Act 1945 to Northern Ireland; and for purposes connected with the matters aforesaid.

[31st July 1963]

Be it enacted by the Queen'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 Amendment of Law of England and Wales

Part I

Amendment of Law of England and Wales

S-1 Extension of tine-limit for certain actions.

1 Extension of tine-limit for certain actions.

(1) Section 2 (1) of the Limitation Act 1939 (which, in the case of certain actions, imposes a time-limit of three years for bringing the action) shall not afford any defence to an action to which this section applies, in so far as the action relates to any cause of action in respect of which—

(a ) the court has, whether before or after the commencement of the action, granted leave for the purposes of this section, and

(b ) the requirements of subsection (3) of this section are fulfilled.

(2) This section applies to any action for damages for negligence, nuisance or breach of duty (whether the duty exists by virtue of a contract or of provision made by or under a statute or independently of any contract or any such provision) where the damages claimed by the plaintiff for the negligence, nuisance or breach of duty consist of or include damages in respect of personal injuries to the plaintiff or any other person.

(3) The requirements of this subsection are fulfilled in relation to a cause of action if it is proved that the material facts relating to that cause of action were or included facts of a decisive character which were at all times outside the knowledge (actual or constructive) of the plaintiff until a date which—

(a ) either was after the end of the three-year period relating to that cause of action or was not earlier than twelve months before the end of that period, and

(b ) in either case, was a date not earlier than twelve months before the date on which the action was brought.

(4) Nothing in this section shall be construed as excluding or otherwise affecting—

(a ) any defence which, in any action to which this section applies, may be available by virtue of any enactment other than section 2 (1) of the Limitation Act 1939 (whether it is an enactment imposing a period of limitation or not) or by virtue of any rule of law or equity, or

(b ) the operation of any enactment or rule of law or equity which, apart from this section, would enable such an action to be brought after the end of the period of three years from the date on which the cause of action accrued.

S-2 Application for leave of court.

2 Application for leave of court.

(1) Any application for the leave of the court for the purposes of the preceding section shall be made ex parte, except in so far as rules of court may otherwise provide in relation to applications which are made after the commencement of a relevant action.

(2) Where such an application is made before the commencement of any relevant action, the court shall grant leave in respect of any cause of action to which the application relates if, but only if, on evidence adduced by or on behalf of the plaintiff, it appears to the court that, if such an action were brought forthwith and the like evidence were adduced in that action, that evidence would, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, be sufficient—

(a ) to establish that cause of action, apart from any defence under section 2 (1) of the Limitation Act 1939, and

(b ) to fulfil the requirements of subsection (3) of the preceding section in relation to that cause of action.

(3) Where such an application is made after the commencement of a relevant action, the court shall grant leave in respect of any cause of action to which the application relates if, but only if, on evidence adduced by or on behalf of the plaintiff, it appears to the court that, if the like evidence were adduced in that action, that evidence would, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, be sufficient—

(a ) to establish that cause of action, apart from any defence under section 2 (1) of the Limitation Act 1939, and

(b ) to fulfil the requirements of subsection (3) of the preceding section in relation to that cause of action,

and it also appears to the court that, until after the commencement of that action, it was outside the knowledge (actual or constructive) of the plaintiff that the matters constituting that cause of action had occurred on such a date as (apart from the preceding section) to afford a defence under section 2 (1) of the Limitation Act 1939.

(4) No appeal shall lie from any decision of the Count of Appeal on an appeal against a decision on an application under this section.

(5) In this section ‘relevant action’, in relation to an application for the leave of the court, means any action in connection with which the leave sought by the application is required.

S-3 Application of ss. 1 and 2 to actions after death of injured person.

3 Application of ss. 1 and 2 to actions after death of injured person.

(1) In relation to any action to which section 1 of this Act applies, being an action in respect of one or more causes of action surviving for the benefit of the estate of a deceased person by virtue of section 1 of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934, subsections (1), (3) and (4) of section 1 of this Act and the last preceding section shall have effect subject to the provisions of subsections (4) and (5) of this section.

(2) Subsections (1), (3) and (4) of section 1 of this Act and the last preceding section shall have effect, subject to the provisions of subsections (4) to (6) of this section, in relation to an action brought by virtue of the Fatal Accidents Acts for damages in respect of a person's death, as they have effect in relation to an action to which section 1 of this Act applies.

(3) In the following provisions of this section, and in sections 1 and 2 of this Act as modified by those provisions, ‘the deceased’ means the person referred to in subsection (1) or subsection (2) of this section, as the case may be.

(4) Section 1 (1) of this Act shall not have effect in relation to any action falling within subsection (1) or subsection (2) of this section unless the action is brought before the end of the period of twelve months from the date on which the deceased died.

(5) For the purposes of the application of subsection (3) of section 1 of this Act to an action falling within subsection (1) or subsection (2) of this section,—

(a ) any reference in the said subsection (3) to the plaintiff shall be construed as a reference to the deceased, and

(b ) the requirements of that subsection shall be taken to be fulfilled in relation to a cause of action if either the matters specified in that subsection (as modified by the preceding paragraph) are proved or it is proved that the material facts relating to that cause of action were or included facts of a decisive character which at all times until his death were outside the knowledge (actual or constructive) of the deceased;

and any reference in this Part of this Act to the requirements of the said subsection (3) shall, in relation to an action falling within subsection (1) or subsection (2) of this section, be construed as a reference to the requirements of the said subsection (3) as modified by this subsection.

(6) In the application of this Part of this Act to an action brought by virtue of the Fatal Accidents Acts,—

(a ) any reference to a cause of action to which an action relates shall be construed as a reference to a cause of action in respect of which it is claimed that the deceased could (but for his death) have maintained an action and recovered damages, and

(b ) any reference to establishing a cause of action shall be construed as a reference to establishing that the deceased could (but for his death) have maintained an action and recovered damages in respect thereof.

S-4 Time-limit for claiming contribution between tortfeasors.

4 Time-limit for claiming contribution between tortfeasors.

(1) Where under section 6 of the Law Reform (Married Women and Tortfeasors) Act 1935 a tortfeasor (in this section referred to as ‘the first tortfeasor’) becomes entitled after the passing of this Act to a right to recover contribution in respect of any damage from another tortfeasor, no action to recover contribution by virtue of that right shall (subject to subsection (3) of this section) be brought after the end of the period of two years from the date on which that right accrued to the first tortfeasor.

(2) For the purposes of this section the date on which a right to recover contribution in respect of any damage accrues to a tortfeasor (in this subsection referred to as ‘the relevant date’) shall be ascertained as follows, that is to say—

(a ) if the tortfeasor is held liable in respect of that damage by a judgment given in any...

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