Time Limits for Building and Construction Claims

What Is A Limitation Period?

The time limit within which you are able to bring a claim against another party is known as the "limitation period". This area of law is quite complex and relies on the Limitation Act 1980, which sets out the time limits for each area of law. If a case is not issued or resolved at Court within what is known as the "limitation period", then the Defendant will have an absolute defence to the claim and the Court has no discretion to allow an out of time claim to proceed. If you need to know the time limits applicable to your case, we would advise you to speak to a solicitor or look at the Limitation Act 1980. However as this area of law is so complex, even when you think you are outside the time limit, there may be other circumstances that mean you are actually within them! So it's best to consult with a solicitor.

What Is The Limitation Period For Simple Contract Claims?

Simple contract claims must be issued within 6 years of the date of the breach of the contract, which is generally when the contract is performed. This would cover claims for non-payment by the builder and claims for defective workmanship by the client.

What Is The Limitation Period For Defective Workmanship?

Where there is defective workmanship a claim can normally be pursued in the law of negligence, as well as contract. Claims for negligence must be issued within 6 years of the date of damage occurring. If the claim relates to a defective product, instead of defective service, time does not start to run until the product results in actual damage. Where the damage was latent and could not reasonably be discovered before then, there is an additional limitation period of 3 years from the date of discoverability of the damage, subject to a long-stop of 15 years and provided there was no knowledge of any damage previously. If minor damage was caused and a claim is not brought, the clock does not restart on discovering more serious damage later.

What Is The Limitation Period For Deliberate Damage?

If the damage was deliberately concealed, then time does not start to run until the concealment was either discovered or could, with reasonable diligence, have been discovered. This would potentially include a builder using defective materials or covering up bad workmanship. The time limit is the same as the original action (ie normally 6 years) with no long-stop provision.

What Is The Limitation Period For Personal Injury?

If the claim includes a claim for personal injury, then a shorter limitation period of 3 years for the personal injury claim applies. While the Court has a discretion to allow such a claim to be brought outside of 3 years, you cannot rely on any of the other limitation periods.

What Happens When Proceedings Are Issued?

The issuing of proceedings is a "crystallising event". Where proceedings are issued between parties, they are entitled to raise any claim between themselves, within those proceedings, that existed at the issue date. However, there is nothing to prevent a party from waiting until their opponent's claim is out of time before they issue their claim. An example would be where a personal injury was sustained when a wall collapsed during construction. If the builder then waits 4 years before bringing a claim for unpaid invoices for the work, a defence cannot be raised based on the damage caused by the wall falling down.

Where a claim is brought against you and you believe someone else is also liable, you do not have to join them to the proceedings. However, if they are not made a party to the proceedings, you only have 2 years from the date of quantification of the original claim, to issue any claim against them.

If the person bringing that claim is a "protected party", then for limitation purposes time does not run whilst they are protected. They may be protected due to their age (under 18) or they lack the mental capacity to deal with the matter.

For Building and Construction Claims call us on 01935 823883