Limitation and the stroke of midnight: Clare Dixon and Nicholas Broomfield in the Court of Appeal in Matthew v Sedman [2019] EWCA Civ 475

Where limitation is concerned, minutes and hours can matter as much as days. This is what the Court of Appeal found in Matthew v Sedman [2019] EWCA Civ 475 upholding the judgment of HHJ Hodge QC on an issue which he had described as “short but interesting and not unimportant”. The Court of Appeal’s decision is a must-read for anyone dealing with litigation issued at or near the expiry of the limitation period.

Matthew v Sedman concerned difficult questions about the date (or even time of day) at which causes of action accrue and the calculation of limitation periods in professional negligence claims. The trustees and beneficiaries of the Evelyn Hammond Will Trust (“the Claimants”) brought proceedings against the Trust’s former trustees (“the Defendants”) for a failure to submit claims under a court sanctioned scheme of arrangement. In November 2017 HHJ Hodge QC held that part of the Claimants’ claim was time barred and granted the Defendants summary judgment on this aspect of the case. Permission to appeal was granted and the Court of Appeal heard the Claimants’ appeal on 15 January 2019.

Clare Dixon and Nicholas Broomfield of 4 New Square (instructed by Mills & Reeve LLP) represented the Defendants.

The decision of the Court of Appeal is considered by Helen Evans of 4 New Square here.