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Statutory time limits/statute of limitations

Many non-family law cases have time limits in which proceedings must be instituted. If they are not instituted within the time limit they will be “statute barred”. This means that the claim is bound to fail, as long as the Defendant remembers to plead the Statute of Limitations (the law that sets out these time limits) in their Defence. Cases where the Statute of Limitations applies, and the applicant is the intended Plaintiff, are always classified High Risk on EOS.

The decision maker, in the first instance, should note the date the solicitor has calculated as the statute expiry date (entered on the Risk tab in EOS) and the issues involved. If a legal aid certificate is granted, the solicitor/Counsel drafting the proceedings will need adequate time to properly do so, including time to properly prepare. Depending on the complexity of the applicant’s case the part of the document(s) starting Court proceedings which sets out the Plaintiff’s claim may be quite complex and take time to properly draft.

If the statute expiry date is about to pass, and the applicant has only recently applied for legal services, then the application should be brought to the attention of the Director of Civil Legal Aid. The Director will decide whether the applicant should be advised that it is simply not possible to give any meaningful consideration to the merits of the case within the remaining statutory time period.  In these circumstances a template letter will be provided to the law centre in order that the applicant can be informed that the Board is not in a position to provide assistance prior to the expiry of the statutory deadline.

See also the section on “Risk” in Chapter 3 of the Administrative Procedures Handbook