We all know (or should know!) that law has time limits. If you have a claim, you do not have unlimited time in which to bring that claim and if you are out of time, then baring a few exceptions, you will be time barred. The time limits vary from area of law to area of law. For example, in Employment Tribunal cases, most claims need to be bought within a very strict 3 months less one day from the date of dismissal. A claim for defamation has a shelf life of 12 months but a claim for breach of contract can be bought up to six years later, although I would never recommend waiting that long if it can be avoided.
Never, however, have I heard of a claim being bought 80 years after the event. Nevertheless, the High Court has recently been hearing a case that relates to a World War II bomb and in particular who should be responsible for the cost of the damage caused as a result of that bomb.
Well I know that court delays are at an all time high, but that’s excessive even by recent standards.
But actually that is not the cause of the holdup. Although the bomb was at the heart of the issue, it was only actually discovered and defused by the armed forces in 2021. So the dispute was between the landowner (a university) and their insurers as to whether the damage was caused by the bomb itself (in which case it fell within the force majeure clause and was not claimable) or was it caused by the army coming in to defuse the bomb, in which case it fell outside of the exclusion and the insurance company would have to pay.
The court came down in favour of the insurers, reasoning that it was the bomb that was at the root course and so was a by product of the war.
It is common for clients to complain that solicitors will never give them a straight yes or no answer. That is because there rarely is one. This case demonstrates (yet again) that nothing is ever guaranteed in legal terms. You can’t even take it for granted that events from decades ago won’t affect you or that a clause that excludes the effects of war won’t still be found to be relevant many years after the war in question came to an end.
Kleyman & Co Solicitors. The full service law firm. Whether you are at war or at peace.