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Has your solicitor missed the limitation date of you claim?

If your Solicitor has failed to issue or settle your claim by the expiry of the limitation period of your claim, it is very difficult to revive your lost claim. In such circumstances, we advise you to seek the advice of a professional negligence solicitor right away.

If you are wondering whether you will be able to make a claim against your Solicitor in such circumstances, it is highly likely that the answer will be yes.

When pursuing your claim, your solicitor has a duty to ensure your claim is bought within the applicable statutory limitation period. The limitation periods for all types of claim are clearly set out by the Limitation Act 1980. Under the Act, the limitation period for a breach of contract or professional negligence claim is six years, and of a personal injury claim or clinical negligence claim, it is three years. There are some claims which attract a shorter period, such as limitation for a defamation claim which is one year, and an employment tribunal claim which is three months less one day.

The onus is on your Solicitor to know the limitation period applicable to your claim and when such a period starts to run from, and ensure your claim is bought within the relevant time.

For a claim to be bought validly within the relevant period, it must either be settled, issued to Court, or you must have entered into a standstill agreement with the opposing party.

Once your claim is issued, your claim may automatically have a short ‘stay’ period depending on how the claim was issued or your Solicitor can formally request a stay of proceedings from the Court. You should seek the advice of your solicitor to see if either of these options are applicable.

In the event your Solicitor has failed to bring your claim in time of your claim’s limitation date, in some claims, such as personal injury claims, a claimant can throw themselves at the mercy of the court, and ask that the court allows an action to proceed. However, this is entirely at the court’s discretion, and a solicitor’s error is not often a good enough reason to allow an action to proceed.

Alternatively, you may have a way to recover your losses by way of a professional negligence claim against your solicitor. In such an action, you can seek to claim the losses that you were previously attempting to claim for. This type of claim is made on a ‘loss of chance’ basis, as you by missing your limitation, you have lost the chance to claim.

In a loss of chance claim the Court will analyse the prospects of success of your former action and whether your claim had a real and substantial chance of being successful had it been able to continue.

Professional negligence lawyers at Specters Solicitors have acted on a number of claims against solicitors for failing to bring their client’s claim in time. Therefore, we are more than equipped to advise you of your options and act on your behalf in a claim against your former solicitor.

Limitation periods also apply in a professional negligence action, and the time periods can start to run from as early as the date you instructed your solicitor. Therefore, it is vital you seek the advice of a professional negligence solicitor as soon as you have found yourself in the unfortunate position of your limitation period lapsing before your claim has been settled or issued.