A case on limitation periods.

This case has just been to the Court of Appeal (we lost) and is probably only of interest to personal injury lawyers.

My client alleged injury through the consumption of defective food. Proceedings were not issued until over three years later. The claim was brought for breach of contract against the retailer. The Defendant argued that my client was out of time by virtue of section 11 of the Limitation Act 1980. At first instance the District Judge ruled that section 11 (personal injury claims brought for breach of duty) did not apply to claims brought for breach of a strict term of contract and accordingly applied the six year period for claims brought in simple contract. On appeal the Recorder declared himself bound by Howe -v- David Brown in which two members of the Court of Appeal accepted the three year period without hearing argument. The Recorder declined to express any view as to the plain meaning of the words of section 11. The full Court of Appeal, unfettered by Howe -v- David Brown (as to which see Boys -v- Chaplin) held nevertheless that the words "breach of any duty [which] exists by virtue of a contract" are intended to include all breaches of contract and not just those where a duty of care is imposed.

(Comment- this decision achieves consistency in relation to limitation periods for different causes of action).