Time Limits on Legal Action
Time Limits for a Civil Action
If you wish to bring a claim against another person or company for loss you say they have caused you then you can only commence a legal action within certain limits. If you fail to commence an action within the time period allowed your claim will generally be dismissed by the Court without a trial taking place. You will not therefore be allowed to pursue your claim any further.
These time limits may be statutory (ie they have been created through a Law passed by the States) or they may be found in decisions of the Royal Court.
The most common time limits are as follows:
- Breach of contract – 10 years from the date of the breach of contract you are complaining about. This includes claims against debtors;
- Enforcement of Court judgments for debt – 10 years from the date of the judgment;
- Claims based on negligence – 3 years from the date when you suffered loss or damage;
- Claims to share an estate – 1 year and 1 day from the date of death;
There are decisions of the Royal Court which allow you to bring a claim even if you are outside the normal time limit to do so. The Court may permit your claim to continue where you did not know you could bring a claim and it was practically impossible for you to find out that you could do so.
If you think you wish to bring a claim the best advice is to do so as soon as possible. If you are unsure whether a time limit might apply to your claim you should seek advice as the rules are complex.
If you are sued and you think a claim has been brought too late you should raise this with the person bringing the claim and any Court dealing with it as soon as possible and seek advice.
Time limits for challenges to decisions of government or States Departments or other public bodies
If your claim is that you wish to challenge a decision of a government department, or a public body that has made a decision about you, generally the time limits for such claims are much shorter. So you should take care that you exercise any right of appeal within the period allowed.
The time limits to challenge this type of decision are often found in the relevant law governing the decision you wish to challenge. Such time limits can be as short as 2 weeks. Generally, you should be told when you were informed of the decision you wish to challenge what the time limit for bringing an appeal or challenge is. However, if you know which Law applies to your decision you should check it or ask for advice.
If there are no time limits or right of appeal, you may be able to challenge the decision by bringing an application known as ‘Judicial Review.’ This is an application that asks the Royal Court to review whether the decision made is a fair one. Generally, this type of application should be brought as soon as possible and no later than 3 months from the decision made.
Claims to the Employment and Discrimination Tribunal
Generally, in respect of applications to the Employment and Discrimination Tribunal, any complaint you wish to bring should be brought within 8 weeks of the action of your employer that you are complaining about. If you do not do so, it is likely that the Employment Tribunal will refuse your claim. Departmental guidance can be obtained from the Jersey Advisory Conciliation Service (‘JACS’ on the relevant time limits and what you need to do to bring a claim. (See contact details below)
There is now no time limit within which a person who commits an offence may be prosecuted. The Criminal Procedure (Prescription of Offences) (Jersey) Law 1999 came into force on 23rd July 1999 removing all time limits on criminal offences. So any crime, no matter how long ago it was, can still be prosecuted.
Generally, there is also now no time limit governing how long a criminal investigation might take and the Court will not normally interfere in the conduct of an investigation by the police. It is only if the investigation can be shown to be an abuse of process that the court might take some action. This is a complex area where legal advice is needed.
Jersey Advisory and Conciliation Service (JACS)
No 1 Seale Street