If a claimant does not have the necessary knowledge to bring a claim (for example, they did not know that they had suffered loss, or did not know about the negligent act or omission causing the loss, or did not know the identity of the negligent party), then the six-year rule can be extended.In such cases, a claimant has three years from when they knew or ought reasonably to have known that they had a claim.
So what does this all mean?As an example, in 2006, you instruct a pensions advisor to manage your pension fund. In 2016, you are provided with a statement that shows your pensions advisor has put all of your money into high-risk investments, despite you telling them that you were a cautious investor and wanted only low-risk investments. As a direct result of the high-risk investments your fund value has reduced and you want to sue the pensions advisor for negligence. Even if all of the investments were made in 2006 (i.e. more than six years ago) you can still bring a claim against your pensions advisor for negligence, because you found out about his actions within the last three years. Any negligence claim remains subject to a 15-year long stop from the date of the negligent act or omission. Using the example above, assuming all of the high-risk investments were made in 2006 but you did not find out about them until 2022, you would be too late to bring a negligence claim. This is irrespective of the fact that you did not know about the negligence before.
What is knowledge?The above example is based on actual knowledge i.e. what did the claimant really know. However, the legal definition is wider than that. The Limitation Act 1980 confirms that a person’s knowledge includes knowledge which he might reasonably have been expected to acquire (a) from facts observable or ascertainable by him; or (b) from facts ascertainable by him with the help of appropriate expert advice which it is reasonable for him to seek. Read more about negligence:
- How your business can fight business negligence claims
- Professional negligence claims: A basic guide
- How to avoid business negligence
How can you stop limitation from expiring?Once limitation has expired this cannot be undone. The claim will be statute-barred. However, if you know that limitation is approaching then there are things that you can do to protect your right to claim: Try to agree a “standstill” with the other party. A standstill is where both parties consent to an agreement that limitation shall be paused for a period of time. Solicitors can help you to draft these agreements to ensure that your rights are properly protected.
Issue a claim at Court. Once your claim is issued, limitation cannot expire for any element of that claim. You have to be sure that the claim issued at Court protects all relevant causes of action, but so long as that is done properly, your claim will not become statute-barred. In 2016, employers will begin to feel the impact of the employment law reforms made by the first Conservative government. As such, here are the five most important pieces of legislation that leaders need to keep in mind. Rebecca Green is a solicitor in the professional negligence team with Wright Hassall.
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