In a recent High Court Decision by Ms. Justice Marguerite Bolger delivered 18th October 2022 – Olayinka Johnson Applicant v Dunnes Stores plc. respondent  IEHC 580 the Judge struck out the Plaintiff’s proceedings as they were Statute-barred. The Application had been made to the Court by the Defendant by way of trial of a Preliminary Issue.
The Plaintiff, Olayinka Johnson, had lodged her PIAB Application 10 months outside the 2-year compensation . It is usually three years for personal injury cases in Northern Ireland and two years for personal injury cases in the Republic of Ireland and six years for other claims. After this time, you are very unlikely to be able to make a claim, although there are exceptions to this. Your solicitor will advise you about the limitation period that applies in your particular case. This is a good reason for seeing a solicitor as soon as you think you may have a claim for compensation.</p> ">limitation period (please refer to our page on the Statute of Limitations and the restricted 2-year limitation period at Statute of Limitations – Morgan McManus Solicitors, Monaghan, Ireland) but had claimed that she was operating under a disability which, she claimed, extended the limitation period beyond the restricted 2-year period.
The Plaintiff was suffering from significant stress
Delivering judgment in the case, Ms. Justice Marguerite Bolger held that the Plaintiff was suffering from significant stress when she first presented to her GP in May 2014 and suffered from mild to moderate depression thereafter. The Judge however held that, on the evidence presented, the illness fell far short of establishing that she had a disability within the meaning of the Statute of Limitation Act 1991 and accordingly, not having filed her Claim with PIAB within the required 2-year statutory limitation period, her Action was Statue Barred and accordingly the Judge had no alternative but to strike out her proceedings.
The Plaintiff was suffering significant health problems
There is no doubt, from reading the Court Decision that the Plaintiff was suffering significant health problems; so much to the extent that when she did consult with Citizen’s Advice and FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centre), signing a letter of Complaint addressed to the Defendant dated 11th June 2014 and also signing a Claim Form to the LRC (Labour Relations Commission) in November 2014, all of those tasks were achieved with the considerable assistance of the Plaintiff’s husband who was very supportive to the Plaintiff throughout her illness.
That said, the Judge had no alternative based on the agreed facts of the case, but to dismiss the Claim.
When was the 3-Year Statutory Limitation Period Reduced?
Under the Statute of Limitations Act 1957 to 1991, the claimant (Plaintiff) normally had 3 years from the date of an accident within which to issue proceedings, where compensation was being sought for Personal Injuries.
This however changed in July 2004, Section 7 of Civil liability and Courts Act 2004, when the Statute of Limitations period was reduced from 3 years to 2 years with effect from the 31st March 2005.
Ironically, the Statute of Limitations period in Northern Ireland and the UK still remains at 3 years and often this can be a source of confusion to Claimants from the UK or Northern Ireland who are involved in, for instance, a road traffic accident while visiting Ireland where they then decide to issue a Claim in Ireland. Bear in mind that it is a daily event for many residents of Northern Ireland to travel south of the border and they can be involved in road traffic accidents, where they subsequently return North to seek advice from their Northern Solicitor who might understandably assume that the limitation period in Ireland is the same 3 year period as in Northern Ireland / the UK.
Unfairness of the restricted 2-year period
Turning back to the Olayinka Johnson case, one must have some sympathy for Ms. Johnson. That is not to say that she would necessarily have been successful in her Claim had she been allowed to proceed to Court. The fact however that she was limited (like many other Claimants in Ireland) to this restricted 2-year period was unfair. Many Claimants are not aware of the Statute of Limitation; much less the fact that we have a restricted 2 year limitation period.
The PIAB website
If one visits the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) website to submit the Online Claim Form, there is no reference to this restricted Limitation Period. All one is told is that the Claim through PIAB is a faster and speedier process!
Consult a Solicitor
The above High Court decision emphasises the necessity for Claimants to retain a Solicitor and to instruct that Solicitor as soon as reasonably possible, even where they are only submitting a PIAB claim. It is not a question of whether you need a Solicitor to file a PIAB personal injury claim. It is more a question of whether you are wise to take it upon yourself to file a PIAB personal injury claim without first consulting a Solicitor.
For further information on the problems which can arise where you take it upon yourself to file your own claim without the benefit of legal assistance, please read our Guide: “Do I need a Solicitor when filing a PIAB Personal Injury Claim?”
For further information on Accident / Personal Injury Claims you should contact:
Morgan McManus Solicitors
*In contentious business a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.