In Queensland, the Limitation of Actions Act (Statute of Limitations) sets out particular limitation periods within which a person must commence proceedings to preserve their rights. Other legislation also sets periods of time that can be relevant and people can actually agree to a shorter or longer time in a contract or other enforceable document. The time period starts when the cause of action accrues. That can be different depending on the type of action you are looking to maintain or that has been brought against you. It can be a complex area of law in itself.
A cause of action varies depending on the type of case. For example a cause of action based on a breach of contract occurs when the breach itself occurs such as the provision of advice that was incorrect. The time period however for a claim in negligence may not commence until a later time, that is, when the damage occurs. So a person may have a cause of action based in both contract and in negligence. It may also be that the time period has expired under the claim in contract but not in negligence.
In any event, you should not delay in looking to commence court proceedings because if you do, you may fall foul of these periods and lose valuable rights to bring actions. The running of the limitation period is stopped by the commencement of the court proceedings. So as long as court proceedings are brought within that period of time, the claim can be run even if not determined until a later time.
There are instances where a defendant may be prevented from relying on a limitation period because of the conduct of that party. There are also situations where a potential plaintiff can apply to extend a limitation period. These situations are legally complex and you should not expect that an extension will be granted or a court agrees that the other party is prevented, by its conduct, on relying on a limitation period. It is much safer to start any court action within the relevant and designated time frame.
Aitken Whyte Lawyers
Level 6, 9 Lawson St, Southport
Ph: +617 5596 9099