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Cover Pearce & Stevens' Trusts and Equitable Obligations

36. Limitation of action  

This chapter considers the defence of limitation in regard to an action for compensation for breach of trust, which are governed by the Limitation Act 1980. Actions normally have to be brought within a six-year limitation period, though there are exceptions such as fraud, where no limitation period is imposed. The related doctrine of laches (unreasonable delay) is also explored. It also considers those provisions as they apply to actions against fiduciaries who have received an unauthorized profit, which has proved more difficult because the legislation does not make any express provision for such claims. A failed attempt at legislative reform of the operation of limitation periods by the Law Commission is also explored.


Cover Anson's Law of Contract

20. Limitation of Actions  

Jack Beatson, Andrew Burrows, and John Cartwright

At common law, lapse of time does not affect contractual rights. But it is the policy of the law to discourage stale claims because, after a long period, a defendant may not have the evidence to rebut such claims and should be in a position to know that after a given time an incident which might have led to a claim is finally closed. Accordingly, in the Limitation Act 1980, the Legislature has laid down certain periods of limitation after the expiry of which no action can be maintained. Equity has developed a doctrine of laches, under which a claimant who has not shown reasonable diligence in prosecuting the claim may be barred from equitable relief.


Cover Equity & Trusts Law Directions

15. Breach of trust: defences and relief  

Without assuming prior legal knowledge, books in the Directions series introduce and guide readers through key points of law and legal debate. Questions, diagrams and exercises help readers to engage fully with each subject and check their understanding as they progress. A trust must be duly administered in accordance with the provisions of the trust instrument, if any, and the general law. Similarly, a trustee should be liable for a dishonest breach of trust. Not every breach of trust is deliberate or dishonest. Liability may arise due to lack of care and other inadvertent breaches of trust, and even due to an essentially ‘technical’ or ‘formal’ breach of fiduciary duty. This chapter examines the extent of trustees’ civil liability for breach of trust, whether there might be a valid defence to a breach of trust and whether a trustee’s liability should be reduced by some form of relief. It looks at the remedies available against trustees for a breach of trust, a claimant’s election between inconsistent remedies, comparison with common law remedies, capital repayment, interest on the judgment, the Limitation Act 1980, the doctrine of laches, the beneficiary’s instigation of or consent to the breach and the beneficiary’s acquiescence in breach.