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Time to sue: The law of limitation periods

Limitation periods in the law impose time limits within which types of civil proceedings should ordinarily be commenced. In commercial litigation, statutes of limitations impose most of the limitation periods. In Queensland, the statute of limitations is the Limitation of Actions Act 1974.

Barring the remedy only

It is commonly thought that limitation periods prohibit a person from suing out of time, however this is inaccurate.

Limitation periods are not a mandatory prohibition on suing that bar the Court from having jurisdiction (power) to hear the claim. They instead provide a defence available for defendants when proceedings are brought out of time, which must be specifically pleaded to be upheld. Unless a plaintiff can show that an exception would overcome the limitation period hurdle, the defence, once pleaded, must defeat the parts of the claim brought out of time.

When the cause of action arises

Time starts to run for the purposes of the limitation period once the cause of action arises/accrues.

The cause of action ordinarily arises as soon as a plaintiff is entitled to sue. Usually, this means when the plaintiff has suffered actual loss, because the wrongful acts or omissions said to have caused the loss must have occurred before the loss was suffered. From that moment, the relevant limitation period starts to run.

Common limitation periods in Queensland

The Limitation of Actions Act 1974 (Qld) imposes the following limitation periods in Queensland:

·       6 years for an action founded on simple contract or quasi-contract or on tort where the damages claimed by the plaintiff do not consist of or include damages in respect of personal injury to any person

·       6 years to enforce an award or recognisance

·       6 years for an account or a specialty

·       12 years to enforce a judgment

·       2 years to recover a penalty or forfeiture, or a sum by way of a penalty or forfeiture

·       1 year for defamation actions

·       3 years for personal injury, save for cases of a dust-related condition or child abuse

·       12 years to recover land

·       2 years for action for contribution under the Law Reform Act 1995 or 4 years after the limitation period for the principal action, whichever is the earliest.

In Brisbane City Council v Amos [2019] HCA 27, the High Court unanimously held that where a cause of action is subject to two or more limitation periods, a Defendant is entitled to plead and rely on the shorter limitation period.

In some circumstances, the limitation period will be or can be extended.

Read full article here: https://sterlinglawqld.com/the-law-of-limitation-periods

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Sue Chrysanthou SC restrained from representing Christian Porter — Sterling Law QLD

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Jarryd Hayne sentenced to five years and nine months imprisonment for sexual assault — Sterling Law QLD

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Businesswoman Elaine Stead awarded $280,000 in defamation damages — Sterling Law QLD

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Types of appeals in Queensland and the Federal Courts — Sterling Law QLD

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Bradley Robert Edwards given life with non-parole period of 40 years for two Claremont murders — Sterling Law QLD

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Why your agreement should be in writing — Sterling Law QLD

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