When a solicitor has missed a time limit it can result in the legal action being struck out by the court.
We are frequently consulted by people who have been the victim of a court decision based on a missed deadline that has effectively scuppered their legal claim.
Experienced litigation lawyers know that the court rules, and in particular court time limits, have to be followed to the letter. They will be aware of the perils of leaving things to the last minute, when the risk of falling foul of a time limit or limitation period is at its highest. It is therefore good practice for cases to be conducted with this in mind.
However, the best laid plans and intentions often go awry. When they do you can expect your opponent’s lawyers to leap on the slightest procedural error in the hope that an otherwise meritorious claim can be defeated on a technicality.
What should I do if my solicitor has missed a time limit?
If a claim is struck out by the court because a solicitor has missed a time limit, the claimant should seek independent advice from a lawyer specialising in solicitors negligence claims.
Where the fault lies with the solicitor and their negligence has led to the claim being lost then the client will be entitled to bring a claim against the negligent solicitor for compensation for their losses.
Are missed time limits always fatal?
The court system has been criticised for being too preoccupied with procedural perfection and in doing so losing sight of its core role in ensuring that justice is done. This has encouraged lawyers to make procedural and technical challenges wherever an opportunity presents itself.
However, such challenges are not always successful as the recent decision in Jones v Chichester Harbour Conservancy and others shows.
A personal injury claim was brought by a young paraplegic. The defendant said that the claim should be struck out because the court proceedings had been served out of time.
The court had set the limitation date in the case as 17th January 2017. But although the claimant’s solicitors had emailed the court proceedings to the defendant on 17th January and put them in the first class post that night, the defendant argued that the they had not agreed to service by email and that the ‘deemed’ date of service for the post was the 19th. The limitation date, they said, had therefore been missed and the claim should fail.
If the application to strike out the claim had succeeded then the claimant’s solicitors would no doubt have faced an expensive negligence claim. Luckily for them, the court exercised common sense, agreeing that the step of posting the proceedings on the 17th was sufficient to comply with the rules. It was nevertheless a close shave, and who knows what a different judge on a different day would have decided?
Free legal helpline
It is for this reason that litigation solicitors tend to be cautious about limitation dates and other key deadlines. But when disaster does strike and your solicitor misses a time limit then our team of experienced negligence solicitors are here to help.
We specialise in these cases and will assess the merits of a professional negligence case free of charge. We can obtain the solicitor’s original file of papers where this is needed to determine fault. And if we think the claim will succeed then we will give you details of No Win, No Fee funding.
Call our free legal helpline on 0808 139 1606 or send an email to [email protected]