Litigation and time limits


Sir, – The article “Defective buildings not just a Celtic Tiger problem” (September 7th) mentions the broader issue of statutory bars whereby someone is prohibited, by law, from starting or continuing with legal proceedings, nearly always for the reason of alleged delay on their part.

An Irish Times news article of the previous day also reported another case whereby the plaintiff was deemed out of time to continue.

In Ireland statutory bars vary considerably between different types of litigation, in some instances being 12 years, in others only one. These limitations are applied to the specific type of action by specific acts of the Oireachtas and, it seems, have been decided upon in isolation and arbitrarily.

The justification claimed for applying a time limit to starting litigation is that the defending party should be free from the stress, cost, inconvenience and such like of having to deal with litigation over a period so protracted as to oppress that defendant.

However, in some cases an injured party can find themselves out of time through no fault of their own or even through the deliberate manoeuvring of a defendant.

Furthermore, mere passage of time does not automatically make a cause of action fall away or lessen hurt.

An acute, lasting sense of injustice and even outrage can fester in an individual, group or society when a perception arises of the law intervening to deny them a day in court.

Perhaps there is another way to balance the rights of injured parties with those who might have to defend any such claim. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.