An application under Section 33 of the Limitation Act 1980 was allowed.

An application under Section 33 of the Limitation Act 1980 was allowed, in the case Tyers v Aegis Defence Services (BVI) Ltd & Ors [2023] EWHC 896 (KB) where the proceedings were issued 7 years after the accident and 4 years after the expiry of the limitation period.

The Claimant was a South African national, who was carrying out security work for the Defendant at a camp in Iraq. In May 2012, he went for a morning run around the perimeter of the camp, which was still under construction. He entered the perimeter of the camp through a gate, and pushed the gate closed after him.  However, the gate was not secured, and it toppled over onto him, sadly killing him.

His widow, (‘the Claimant’) sought damages on behalf of the Estate under the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934 and on behalf of herself and their daughter, as dependants pursuant to the Fatal Accidents Act 1976.

Proceedings were issued on 29 May 2019, seven years after the accident and four years after the limitation period had expired. However, the Claimant issued an application under section 33 of the Limitation Act 1980 for the court to disapply the usual limitation period.

Thereafter a hearing proceeded on the issue of limitation. Mr Justice Martin Spencer made the judgement that the primary limitation period in this case started to run from the date of death and expired on 29 May 2015. This was because the Claimant was aware of her husband’s death, she was aware the death had occurred at work and in part from his working conditions as the gate had crushed him.

However, under Section 33 of the Limitation Act 1980, the Court is provided with a wide discretion to disapply the primary limitation period of three years.

In this matter, the Court concluded that this was a case where the limitation period should be disapplied and allowed the claim to conclude.

In reaching that decision the Court considered a number of factors and made the following findings:

– There was little to no dispute as to the circumstances of the accident

– The Defendant had carried out a probing investigation which included the taking of relevant witness statements and thus the preservation of the evidence which a court might require

– Had proceedings been brought within the primary limitation period, it was likely that by the time a trial would have taken place, witnesses would have been unavailable in any event, particularly those in Iraq;

– The Defendant should have taken better care to protect and preserve relevant documents that were destroyed in flood damage

– The claim appeared to be a strong one

– The Claimant had sought advice following her husband’s death but had not been advised by professionals to consult an English solicitor earlier than she did.

Mr Justice Martin Spencer concluded the hearing, stating “whilst I consider that it was highly unfortunate that the defendant did not receive notification of the claim until service of the proceedings on 10th August 2020, more than 8 years after the accident, the claimant has persuaded me that this is a case where it remains possible for there to be a fair trial and in which I should exercise my discretion to disapply the limitation period, and, accordingly, in my judgment, the claim of Mrs Tyers should be permitted to proceed”

How can PIC help? 

Speak to the team at PIC if you have a case that may have run out of time which falls within the criteria as outlined by Mrs Justice Martin Spencer.


Steve Burn, Senior Costs Consultant