Skip to main content

New Clause—(Transitional Provisions)

Volume 527: debated on Friday 7 May 1954

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

  • (1) The time for bringing proceedings in respect of a cause of action which arose before the passing of this Act shall, if it has not then already expired, expire at the time when it would have expired apart from the provisions of this Act or at the time when it would have expired if all the provisions of this Act had at all material times been in force, which ever is the later.
  • (2) The repeal effected by this Act in sub section (3) of section one of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1934, shall, in the case of a person dying after the passing of this Act, apply as well in relation to causes of action arising before, as in relation to causes of action arising after, the passing thereof.
  • (3) Save as aforesaid, nothing in this Act shall affect any action or proceeding if the cause of action arose before the passing thereof.—[Mr. Peyton.]
  • Brought up, and read the First time.

    11.5 a.m.

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

    As the Bill stands, no case of action which has already accrued at the time the Bill becomes law would be effective. It was suggested in Committee, and indeed on Second Reading, in particular by my hon. Friend the Member for Buckinghamshire, South (Mr. R. Bell), that, whereas it is the intention of the Bill to repeal the Public Authorities Protection Act, it would be unreasonable and unsatisfactory to continue the effect of that Act for causes of action which had accrued but which were still subsisting at the time it became law.

    The effect of this new Clause is, by subsection (1), that potential plaintiffs in those causes of action not statute barred at the time the Bill becomes law shall have the choice either of the period existing prior to the passing of the Bill or the period laid down in the Measure itself. In other words, the potential plaintiff in these transitional cases has the best of both worlds.

    The effect of subsection (2) is to ensure that Clause 4 will apply in the case of a person dying after the Bill becomes law, whether the cause of action had arisen or not before that date. The House will remember that Clause 4 repeals the requirement of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1934, that a cause of action, in order to survive against the estate of a deceased person, must have arisen not earlier than six months before death. A period of three years is substituted. The effect of subsection (2) of the new Clause is that the subsisting cause of action will have the benefit of that repeal.

    Subsection (3) of the new Clause merely keeps alive those special provisions which permit a public authority, under the Act of 1893, to plead tender of amends, and also the special provisions as to costs. It would, I think, be an unreasonable course of action to alter the position of public authorities in that very small matter where a cause of action has already arisen.

    I beg to second the Motion. I wish to express to my hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) my gratitude for the new Clause. It not only meets the substance of the point which I made on Second Reading and in Committee, but it does so in rather an ingenious manner. I was rather puzzled as to how our wish might be effected, but I think the proposed new Clause does it in as efficient and businesslike way as the draftsman could possibly conceive. I thank my hon. Friend for going so far to meet the objections which, in common with others, I raised during earlier stages of the Bill.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

    The next two Amendments, in the name of the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels), are not selected.

    In Clause 2, page 2, line 21, at end, insert:
    Provided however that where any action referred to in this subsection has not been brought within the period of the said three years, an application may be made, after the said period of three years but before the expiration of six years from the accrual of the cause of action, to a judge in chambers or to the judge of the court in which action is proposed to be brought (if not the High Court),. after notice to the intended defendant, for leave to bring such an action notwithstanding the aforesaid period of three years has expired. The judge hearing the said application shall have a discretion to grant the said leave if satisfied that it is reasonable in all the circumstances so to do.
    In Clause 3, page 3, line 5, at end, insert
    Provided that the deceased person's dependants shall have the same right to apply to the court as provided in the second proviso to subsection (1) of section two hereof for an extension of the said period of three years for leave to bring the action notwithstanding that the three years have expired, but not later than six years from the accrual of the cause of action which the deceased himself would have had.

    On a point of order. I understand, Mr. Speaker, that you are not calling my two Amendments. I do not know whether I am entitled to say a word or two in the hope that you might reconsider your decision. I do not question your Ruling, but this is an important matter. It concerns the taking away of existing rights, and I should have thought, therefore, that you might reconsider your decision.

    I am afraid that that is not relevant to the question. I do not know whether the observations of the hon. and learned Member would be in order on the Motion for Third Reading. I cannot say until I hear them, but certainly they are not in order now. We cannot discuss the matter, as the Amendments were not selected. The matter was discussed in Committee.