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Limitation Time to Sue Extended

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By Neela Ramsundar

In June of this year, I wrote about the Limitations of Certain Actions Act, Chapter 7:09 (hereinafter called “the Limitation Act”), which sets out a time limit to file lawsuits born out of issues of contract law or torts such as negligence matters. Section 3(1) of the Limitation Act implements a four-year time limit to sue, starting from the day your right to sue arose.

This law is primarily based on the principle that the element of risk or exposure to being sued by another should have a fixed and certain end date.

Let me break this down, using a car accident as an example, where the other driver caused damage to your vehicle. If the collision occurred on the April 2, 2016 and other driver refused to settle the matter out of court, your lawyer would need to sue by the April 1, in 2020 to preserve your right to compensation.

If you don’t meet that deadline, you would more or less lose the right to receive compensation for your damaged car. Your matter would become statute barred.

Covid-19 made the issue of suing somewhat challenging. Even though legal services are considered essential, many lawyers implemented their own restrictions to protect themselves, their family, their staff and the public from Covid-19.  Some shut down their offices or tried to work remotely from home.

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Face-to-face meetings with new clients became an infrequent activity.

Public access to lawyers of a person’s choice had become limited. With all the preoccupation trying to safeguard themselves and their families from Covid-19, some clients didn’t even think about consulting an attorney for advice on if and when a matter of theirs would become statute barred.

The attorney general back then had made some changes to the Limitation Act which automatically extended that four-year period to sue, if your matter would have become statute barred during the Covid-19 lockdown period.

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The period March 27, 2020 to June 30, 2020 was not to be included in the four-year calculation. Those laws could have been found under section 6 of the Miscellaneous Amendments Act, No. 10 of 2020 and in Legal Notice No. 96 of 2020 (called The Limitation of Certain Actions (Extension of Period) Order, 2020).

Then another Legal Notice (Legal Notice No. 256 of 2020 called The Limitation of Certain Actions (Extension of Period) (No. 2) Order, 2020) was passed, extending the period not to be included in the 4-year calculation from March 27, 2020 to September 30, 2020.

But the Attorney General then gave our country a pre-budget goodie – at least for those who wish to sue! He revoked Legal Notice No. 256 of 2020 and issued Legal Notice 328 of 2020 (called The Limitation of Certain Actions (Extension of Period) (No. 3) Order, 2020). The period not to be computed when calculating when a matter becomes statute barred was extended to December 31, 2020!

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In a nutshell, applicable matters which occurred as far back as March 28, 2016 may not be statute barred. Claims for unpaid debts, contract breaches, negligence etc. which originated then may still be filed in the courts today and up to December 31, 2020! You may want to check your attorney to find out if you can benefit from this new law.

I hope this article was informative! Be safe Trinidad and Tobago!

Copyright © 2020 Neela Ramsundar LL.B (HONS), LEC is a Civil Litigation Attorney at Law & Certified Mediator.  

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for general informative purposes only. It does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader. For legal advice on your specific situation, please contact an Attorney-at-Law of your choosing directly. Liability for any loss or damage of any kind whatsoever allegedly incurred a consequence of using content in this article is thus hereby excluded to the fullest extent permitted by law.

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