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The Limitation (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) Order 1987

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Time limits for negligence actions in respect of latent damage not involving personal injuries

3.—(1) The following sections shall be inserted in the [1958 c. 10] Statute of Limitations (Northern Ireland) 1958 (referred to below as “the 1958 Act”) immediately after section 9D—

Actions in respect of latent damage not involving personal injuries Special time limit for negligence actions where facts relevant to cause of action are not known at date of accrual.

9E.(1) This section applies to any action for damages for negligence, other than one to which section 9A applies, where the starting date for reckoning the period of limitation under subsection (3)(b) falls after the date on which the cause of action accrued.

(2) An action to which this section applies shall not be brought after the expiration of the period applicable in accordance with subsection (3).

(3) That period is either—

(a)six years from the date on which the cause of action accrued; or

(b)three years from the starting date as defined by subsection (4), if that period expires later than the period mentioned in paragraph (a).

(4) For the purposes of this section, the starting date for reckoning the period of limitation under subsection (3)(b) is the earliest date on which the plaintiff or any person in whom the cause of action was vested before him first had both the knowledge required for bringing an action for damages in respect of the relevant damage and a right to bring such an action.

(5) In subsection (4) “the knowledge required for bringing an action for damages in respect of the relevant damage” means knowledge both—

(a)of the material facts about the damage in respect of which damages are claimed; and

(b)of the other facts relevant to the current action mentioned in subsection (7).

(6) For the purposes of subsection (5)(a), the material facts about the damage are such facts about the damage as would lead a reasonable person who had suffered such damage to consider it sufficiently serious to justify his instituting proceedings for damages against a defendant who did not dispute liability and was able to satisfy a judgment.

(7) The other facts referred to in subsection (5)(b) are—

(a)that the damage was attributable in whole or in part to the act or omission which is alleged to constitute negligence; and

(b)the identity of the defendant; and

(c)if it is alleged that the act or omission was that of a person other than the defendant, the identity of that person and the additional facts supporting the bringing of an action against the defendant.

(8) Knowledge that any acts or omissions did or did not, as a matter of law, involve negligence is irrelevant for the purposes of subsection (5).

(9) For the purposes of this section a person’s knowledge includes knowledge which he might reasonably have been expected to acquire—

(a)from facts observable or ascertainable by him; or

(b)from facts ascertainable by him with the help of appropriate expert advice which it is reasonable for him to seek; but a person shall not be taken by virtue of this subsection to have knowledge of a fact ascertainable only with the help of expert advice so long as he has taken all reasonable steps to obtain (and, where appropriate, to act on) that advice. Overriding time limit for negligence actions not involving personal injuries.

9F.(1) An action for damages for negligence, other than one to which section 9A applies, shall not be brought after the expiration of fifteen years from the date (or, if more than one, from the last of the dates) on which there occurred any act or omission—

(a)which is alleged to constitute negligence; and

(b)to which the damage in respect of which damages are claimed is alleged to be attributable (in whole or in part).

(2) This section bars the right of action in a case to which subsection (1) applies notwithstanding that—

(a)the cause of action has not yet accrued; or

(b)where section 9E applies to the action, the date which is for the purposes of that section the starting date for reckoning the period mentioned in subsection (3)(b) of that section has not yet occurred; before the end of the period of limitation prescribed by this section..

(2) In section 9(1) of the 1958 Act, after “9B” there shall be inserted “, 9E and 9F”.

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