Suppose A has a claim against B and the statute of limitations stipulates that it must be brought to the court within 2 years.

Suppose 23,7 months elapse so there is still time (precisely 0,3 months -- less than two weeks) to bring the claim to the court, however, the court expects one to have first gone through the PAP which often allows the respondent 2 weeks to reply to the claimant's first letter.

The claimant no longer has time to send a PAP-Letter Before Claim, but they are still within the statutorily allowed timeframe to bring the claim before the court.

What is the claimant expected to do in this situation? Give the respondent a shortened allowance of time in which to respond to their letter that would still expire within the time limit for the claimant to go to court lest they fail to come to a solution between themselves? File the claim with the court before the deadline to do so while still waiting for the respondent to have their full customary 14 days and the eat the cost of the court filing fee if it proves to be unnecessary due to successful amicable settlement of the matter through the pre-action protocol whilst awaiting the court to list the cause in its calendar? Or something altogether different from both of these options?


2 Answers 2


If there is insufficient time to comply with a pre-action protocol before your limitation period expires, you should initiate proceedings and then apply to the court for a stay of proceedings while you comply. See paragraph 17 here:

"This Practice Direction and the pre-action protocols do not alter the statutory time limits for starting court proceedings. If a claim is issued after the relevant limitation period has expired, the defendant will be entitled to use that as a defence to the claim. If proceedings are started to comply with the statutory time limit before the parties have followed the procedures in this Practice Direction or the relevant pre-action protocol, the parties should apply to the court for a stay of the proceedings while they so comply."


In the US, a statute of limitations has been complied with if the cases is initially filed within the limitation period. The tiem needed for any pre-trial activities, including discovery, motions to suppress evidence, motions to dismiss, and the like, is not part of the limitation period.

In civil cases the court can waive the limit for "good cause". In criminal cases, there is usually no waiver unless the defendant consents.

I had thought that the rules would be similar in E&W, but I am not at all sure of that.

  • Why would the defendant ever consent to a waiver of the limitation period? I presume to have an opportunity to go through the trial process so as to conclusively establish their innocence to be fully exonerated in public opinion and not only the law on the mere basis of a technicality and the prosecutors failing to act in time. But in this scenario why would the prosecutors ever bother pursuing it? Aug 10, 2022 at 8:59
  • 1
    If the prosecution is ready to proceed but the defense wants a delay for some purpose, and that delay would take things beyond the limitation period, the defense may have to agree to a waiver to obtain the desired delay.. Aug 10, 2022 at 13:33

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