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I suffered damage as a result of defamation, through a previous employer breaching laws against disclosure of information.

I spoke to a lawyer at that time and was told my chances of success were small, and that they would block discovery. I don't really understand what that means but I think that it means that they would lie and ask me to prove that they actually communicated to a third party.

The statute of limitations period has expired and they are now gloating about the damage that they caused me. I have only recently come to possess actionable evidence of what they were actually doing to my reputation.

Their gloating to others has resulted in information being given to me about those events, which I believe markedly improve my chances of success.

Does the availability of this evidence allow me to bring a case even though the Statute of Limitations period has passed?

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  • 1
    You may like to read law.stackexchange.com/questions/3379/…. However, to be able to get an answer to your question, you'll need to state your jurisdiction. Commented Dec 23, 2019 at 22:21
  • Has the statute of limitations on the disclosure laws also expired?
    – phoog
    Commented Dec 26, 2019 at 20:00

3 Answers 3

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Section 4A of the Limitation Act 1980 sets the limitation period for defamation cases to 1 year.

However, under section 32A, the court is, in certain situations, allowed to disapply the limitation period to defamation cases.

Essentially a court may lift the period if they think it is just and fair to do so. They will take into consideration factors such as the extent to which enforcing the limitation period would unfairly prejudice the claimant, whether new evidence came to light (and if it ought to have come to light sooner) etc.

It all really depends on the merits and circumstances of your case. I would recommend seeing a solicitor on the matter.

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If you read Shazamo's answer, it's worthwhile thinking about what statute of limitations is good for. Let's say you take me to court, claiming that I called you a "stinking thief and liar" in front of your peers. If that was a long time ago, the situation is unfair to me, because my memory of that event (if it happened at all) is now dim and I would have difficulty defending myself. There may have been witnesses, but I wouldn't remember who they are. So after some time, the statute of limitations says you can't sue me anymore.

However, if I then turned around and said openly "I called Roger a stinking thief and liar, and there's nothing he can do about it, because of the statute of limitations", then quite obviously I remember the situation, and it is in no way unfair that I have to defend myself.

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Just to translate what the Lawyer meant by "Block Discovery". The Discovery phase of a lawsuit is a period following the decision of a judge to hear the case (pending the response from the respondent and your counter-response as well as motions to dismiss decisions). Discovery is a period where both parties can compel another party to turn over materials and documents they believe may contain evidence. The evidence does not have to actually exist in those materials... but the fact that evidence is likely to exist is sufficient to make them valid targets for discovery (So not just e-mails you had with your boss... but your bosses e-mails that were related to you that you weren't a party too... or e-mails about policies of hiring/firing employees. Or outgoing e-mails where someone might have communicated defamatory information.).

Discovery tends to be the phase of the lawsuit where the cases get settled (sometimes it's merely the judge moving the lawsuit to the discovery phase that will get one side to start settlement talks. In these cases, it's not so much that the respondent knows they are guilty of your specific accusation and evidence exists to demonstrate this... but that they do not want something they know will make them look bad unrelated to this to be exposed. Because while it's information that is not known to the public, information that comes out during discovery can become public record once turned over. The damage that info could do them is more costly than paying off the plaintiff to keep quiet about the matter. Almost all settlements include statements preventing both parties from speaking publicly about the matter as part of the deal. Since settling will drop the case, the subpoenaed records won't be turned over to the courts or the plaintiff and they won't get exposed.

Statue of limitations is a more strict rule for crimes as criminal cases tend to handicap the prosecution over the defense. Certain crimes have no statute of limitations (Murder is the big one) while others don't allow it if the crime occurred past a certain period of time (Laws criminalizing rape are being updated to remove the statute of limitations, but this would only be eligible to rape that that occurred following the law coming into effect, since any change to a criminal law that negatively hurts a defendant is Post Ipso Facto... meaning you have to treat the situation as if the older law was still in effect as it was the day of the crime.).

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