Following an extensive review of the law in this area, the Law Reform Commission (LRC) has now initiated a public consultation exercise on its proposals regarding reform of time limits for the bringing of civil actions and simplification of the law on limitation periods.

The LRC has suggested that the complexity and historical origins of the current system actually result in greater litigation costs. The Statute of Limitations 1957 contains seven different limitation periods that apply to a wide range of civil actions. The proposals do not deal with adverse possession or limitation periods in respect of land.

In keeping with developments in other jurisdictions, the LRC is proposing a 'core limitation period' that would apply to almost all civil actions and which would have a uniform commencement date. Amongst the recommendations are:

  • one basic limitation period of general application, running for a period of two years; or
  • three basic limitation periods of specific application, of one, two and six years;
  • that the basic limitation period should run from the date of knowledge of the plaintiff;
  • that there should be an ultimate limitation period (“long stop”) of 12 years;
  • that the ultimate limitation period should apply to contract and tort cases, including personal injuries actions; and
  • that there could be a judicial discretion to extend the time limits in exceptional case

The process is expected to continue for a number of months before formal recommendations are put to the Government.