Good Case? …but maybe out of time!
- Understanding Limitation Periods in Australia

Good Case? …but maybe out of time! 

Understanding Limitation Periods in Australia


“Limitation periods play a crucial role in Australia’s legal system, serving as time limits within which legal actions must be initiated.”


What is “limitation period”?

What is “limitation period”? A limitation period, also known as statute of limitations, refers to the maximum duration within which a party can commence legal proceedings after a cause of action arises. A cause of action may arise in various situations. This article aims to give you a general idea of the limitation periods and facilitate you to commence legal proceedings.

Why limitation period is important?

If you miss the limitation period, the time allowed to sue is expired. 

If you think you have a claim, or would like to enforce your rights, figuring out the limitation periods is crucial before initiating legal proceedings. Limitation periods, established by law, serve as a safeguard to prevent parties from commencing legal proceedings after a specified duration has elapsed. Consequently, it is essential to ascertain if any limitation periods may apply to your case before commencing legal proceedings. 

Failing to initiate legal proceedings within the specific limitation period can result in the inability to bring the case before a court. In other words, if the limitation period has expired, your case will be rejected before the court.

What is the limitation period of your case? 

The duration of the limitation period can vary depending on the nature of the cause of action. They may be also influenced by factors such as the type of claim and the applicable laws in the jurisdiction. For example, for general contractual disputes, limitation period can be six years running from the date on which the cause of action first accrues. 

Different types of cases may have different limitation periods, so it is imperative to act promptly to protect your rights. 

What if the limitation periods have expired or are about to expire? 

If the limitation period of your case has expired, is there any remedies or other measures to claim your rights before the court? In certain situations, even if a limitation period has expired or is about to expire, a court may exercise its discretion to hear the case. This discretionary power allows the court to consider extending the limitation period and permitting the commencement of proceedings. However, you will not automatically get an extension of the limitation period. In such situations, in these cases, the burden lies on the party seeking the extension to convince the court to grant it. 

The court takes various factors into account when making this decision, such as the length and reason for the delay in filing the claim, as well as the potential impact on the defendant. It is important to note that a mere likelihood of success if the claim had been filed within the limitation period is insufficient. Instead, the court must assess the reasons for the delay and ensure a fair trial is still feasible. 

In summary, it is crucial that acting promptly and seek professional legal advice to protect your legal rights. By understanding the applicable limitation periods and seeking guidance from qualified legal professionals, you can ensure that you take timely and appropriate action in your legal matters.


This article does not give legal advice. It is intended to provide general information in summary form on legal topics, current at the time of first publication, for general information purposes only. 

The contents do not constitute legal advice, are not intended to be a substitute for legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular matters.


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