Case details

Nugent and another (Appellants) v Willers (Respondent) (Isle of Man)

Case ID: JCPC 2016/0079

Jurisdiction: The High Court of Justice of the Isle of Man (Staff of Government Division)

Case summary

Issues

The proper interpretation of s.30A(2) of the Isle of Man Limitation Act 1984, where facts giving rise to a cause of action have been discovered late by a Claimant:

  1. Where the passage of time has resulted in evidence no longer being available, is the relevant period of delay to be considered under s.30A(2)(c) the time from the date of knowledge, or from the expiry of the limitation period? Should it therefore be a relevant factor that an important witness is no longer available to give evidence, but would have been available had the claim been issued within the limitation period?
  2. When considering whether the Claimant has acted reasonably and promptly under s.30A(2)(b), is it permissible to make inferences of fact that he did so, in the absence of evidence from that party as to his actual conduct?
Facts

The appeal relates to an interim application in a defamation claim. The limitation period for the claim expired before the facts giving rise to the cause of action became known to the Claimant (the Respondent to this appeal). A period of several months followed before the Claimant issued proceedings. Subsequently, the Claimant successfully applied for a disapplication of the limitation period under s.30A of the Isle of Man Limitation Act 1984, on the basis that it was equitable to allow the claim to proceed. The Claimant did not provide evidence giving reasons for the delay in issuing proceedings. Further, a relevant witness, who would have been able to give evidence at the expiry of the limitation period, subsequently became ill and died. The Deemster held that the death of the witness was not relevant, as the unavailability of his evidence had not been caused by the relevant period of delay – which he held ran from the date that the facts giving rise to the cause of action were discovered by the Claimant. Further, in the absence of evidence from the Claimant as to the reasons for delay, the Deemster was nonetheless entitled to find that he had behaved reasonably, on the basis of the other evidence before the Court. The Deemster’s decision was upheld on appeal.

Parties

Appellants
  1. John Henry Nugent
  2. BDO (Isle of Man) LLC
Respondent

Peter Alan Willers

Appeal

Justices

Lady Hale, Lord Kerr, Lady Black, Lord Briggs, Lord Kitchin

Hearing start date

12 Nov 2018

Hearing finish date

12 Nov 2018

Watch hearing
12 Nov 2018 Morning session Afternoon session