Limitation – Date of Knowledge – Awareness of Loss – Scotland
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30 July 2014
Lord Neuberger (President), Lord Sumption JSC, Lord Reed JSC, Lord Toulson JSC, Lord Hodge JSC
This case concerns the limitation period that applies under the Prescription and Limitation (Scotland) Act (1973). The defendant (appellant) successfully appealed the decision of the Inner Court which had allowed the claimant’s claim out of time. The claimant had argued that he was not out of time because the appropriate period ran from the date he knew that his loss was caused and as a result of the defendant’s negligence. By majority decision the Supreme Court reversed the decision, saying mere knowledge that the damage might possibly have been caused by negligence of another was enough. However in this case that was much earlier and the claim was out of time.
Under the Prescription and Limitation (Scotland) Act (1973) a claimant has 5 years from the date of loss to bring his or her claim for damages. Section 11(3) of the Act creates an exception if the claimant was not aware that the loss arose from the negligence of another and in those circumstances the appropriate period runs from the date of that knowledge.