At our pensions seminar on 1 March 2016 we explained, through the tried and tested route of a role play, trustees’ investment duties by putting a trustee on trial for negligence.
One of the issues we mentioned briefly was limitation periods. If a claim is made too late (outside the limitation period), the claim will fail. Generally the limitation period is six years from the date of breach for a breach of contract claim and six years from the date of the damage in a tortious claim. In the latter case, this is usually the date when the claimant suffered a loss as a result of the breach of duty. However, this six year limitation period in negligence cases can be extended to three years from the date when the claimant knew (or ought reasonably to have known) that he or she had a claim.
The question of the limitation period was a key issue in the February 2016 case of Capita ATL Pension Trustees Limited v Sedgwick Financial Services Limited. The question for the court was whether the fact that the defendant could be liable was only ascertainable with the help of expert evidence, and whether the trustees took all reasonable steps to obtain that advice. The judge considered, on the facts of the case, that the trustees had constructive knowledge of the relevant facts with the result that proceedings against the defendant were dismissed.