One of the biggest potential stumbling blocks to a successful professional negligence claim is the limitation period associated with such litigation. As Justice Nicholls remarked, as far back as 1990, “the question of damage and the limitation period in negligence claims has been a troublesome one for some years”.
However, in most cases, the limitation period to launch professional negligence litigation is six years from the date at which the damage was suffered. That said, there are a number of exceptions to this rule.
Definitions of damage and loss
In some cases, such as a construction negligence claim, it can be relatively easy to quantify damage which has a clear physical manifestation. However, in cases such as accountancy negligence claims where pure economic loss or loss of opportunity have occurred, it can be problematic trying to establish the precise time at which the fact of loss became clear. Furthermore, it can be very difficult trying to quantify the extent of that loss.
Because of these problems of definition, it can take a great deal of work and knowledge on the part of lawyers, judges and experts to establish precisely when a claimant first had knowledge of damage or loss.
So, as mentioned earlier, there are exceptions to the six-year rule. For example, the courts may extend the six-year rule by three years in the event that it can be proved that a claimant was unaware of certain facts at the time of the actionable damage being suffered.
Claims outside of the six-year time limit
Due to exceptions to the six-year rule, and uncertainty surrounding their application, over recent years more and more claims have been made outside of the usual time boundaries.
However, this fact brings with it a number of difficulties. For example, as a claim becomes older, witness availability and reliability becomes a greater concern, as well as practical aspects, such as tracing evidential documents and other vital records.
Healys professional negligence lawyers
We can offer expert advice and legal know-how to benefit your chances of making a successful professional negligence claim.
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