HC Deb 24 June 1996 vol 280 cc75-7

'(1) The Prescription and Limitation (Scotland) Act 1973 is amended as follows.

(2) In section 18A (limitation of defamation and other actions), for subsection (1) substitute— (1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3) below and section 19A of this Act, no action for defamation shall be brought unless it is commenced within a period of one year after the date when the right of action accrued.

(3) In section I9A (power of court to override time—limits, etc).

(a) for subsection (1) substitute—

"(1) Where a person would be entitled, but for any of the provisions of section 17 or section 18 and 18A of this Act, to bring an action, the court may, if it seems equitable to do so, allow him to bring the action (or to bring any specified cause of action to which the action relates) notwithstanding that provision."

(b) after subsection (1) insert—

"(1A) In acting under this section in respect of causes of action falling within section I8A of this Act, the court shall have regard to all the circumstances of the case and in particular to—

  1. (a) the degree to which the operation of section 18A of this Act prejudices the pursuer or any person whom he represents;
  2. (b) the degree to which any decision of the court under this section would prejudice the defender or any person whom he represents;
  3. (c) the length of, and the reasons for the delay on the part of the pursuer;
  4. (d) where the reason or one of the reasons for the delay was that all or any of the facts relevant to the cause of action did not become known to the pursuer until after the end of the period mentioned in section 18A—
    1. (i) the date on which any such facts did become known to him; and
    2. (ii) the extent to which he acted promptly and reasonably once he knew whether or not the facts in question might be capable of giving rise to an action; and
  5. (e) the extent to which, having regard to the delay, relevant evidence is likely—
    1. (i) to be unavailable, or
    2. (ii) to be less cogent than if the action had been brought within the period mentioned in section 18A.

(1B) In the case of an action for malicious falsehood brought by a personal representative, the references in subsection (1A) above to the pursuer shall be construed as including the deceased person to whom the cause of action accrued and any previous personal representative of that person."

(4) The amendments made by this section apply only to rights of action arising after the section comes into force.'.—[Mr. Brooke.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Peter Brooke (City of London and Westminster, South)

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 41, in clause 18, page 13, line 13, at end insert— 'section (Limitation of actions: Scotland) (time limits for actions for defamation or malicious falsehood)'. No. 42, in clause 19, page 14, line 3, leave out '5 and 6' and insert '5, 6 and (Limitation of actions: Scotland)'.

Mr. Brooke

It is a remarkable coincidence that I should rise to move new clause 11 when, in rather less than a minute's time, my speech will be interrupted and I shall sit down, only to be called immediately to move the Second Reading of the King's College London Bill [Lords]. I therefore must occupy this brief period with niceties and allusions to the fact that my hon. Friend the Member for Eltham (Mr. Bottomley), in whose name the new clause also stands, spoke on the matter in Committee and who I know—

It being Seven o'clock, and there being private business set down by direction of THE CHAIRMAN OF WAYS AND MEANS under Standing Order No. 16 (Time for taking private business), further proceedings stood postponed.