The law protects people from having to defend themselves against ‘stale’ claims by imposing strict limitation periods within which claims must be brought.It is the job of claimants’ solicitors to advice in relation to cut off periods and to ensure claims are instituted before that date. When defending a claim, the solicitor must invoke the limitation period as a defence where appropriate. Different periods apply to different types of claims: The statute of limitations imposes a limit of six years on claims for tort or breach of contract. Where personal injury claims are involved, the period is two years. In cases of slander or libel, the period is one year. In unfair dismissals cases, the period is six months. There are particular periods for claims in Maritime Law, against airlines, for defective motor vehicles and defective products, for recovery of land (against a squatter) and for actions against the estate of a deceased person. It is not always clear when time begins to run and this can require specialist legal advice. In fact, a prudent solicitor will consider the application of limitation periods as soon as instructions are given.
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