I wanted to ensure that your readers were not misled into believing that the limitation period for injury claims has been changed.

The article on the Horton v Sadler case by Matthew Hirst ("Timed Out", Legal Report, 22 June) was a sensible and accurate review of the House of Lords' decision. Unfortunately the comment on the same case on page 3 of the same issue drew the wrong conclusion.

Insurers will not face a tidal wave of personal injury claims and actually there was relatively little consideration of the three-year limitation period in the case.

There are not many cases where solicitors have been so negligent as to issue proceedings within three years but then fail to serve within four months. In these cases it is still perfectly possible to strike out the claim under the strict requirements of CPR part 7.6(3). Horton just makes it possible for the claimant to re-issue proceedings and begin again. The costs consequences for the negligent solicitor are still significant (having potentially lost three years' worth of costs) and will remain as a deterrent.

The three-year limitation period remains and has been unaffected by Horton.

Defendants must still show prejudice to the defence of the claim if they are to defeat s33. What has changed is the anomaly of not being able to bring a claim where the proceedings were served late, yet if they were issued after limitation the claimant would be able to continue.

The Horton decision closes off a technical defence, which has been much criticised by the courts in recent years, but which affected only a handful of cases.

Tania Sless
Partner
Beachcroft