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Book Review: 'Personal Injury Limitation Law 4th Edition' (Bloomsbury) by Andrew Roy and Nina Ross

30/07/20. Limitation issues frequently arise, whether in the form of a technical question on the date of knowledge in an industrial disease case or, more prosaically, in attempting to rescue a personal issue claim where the limitation date has been missed. It is an area which has generated a significant volume of cases and where the approach taken by the Courts has shifted over time. The 4th edition of Personal Injury Limitation Law provides a valuable guide to the intricacies of the law and a pathway through the case law.

Personal Injury Limitation Law aims to provide a complete guide to the limitation issues which arise in personal injury cases. As to structure, previous editions included a comprehensive (and lengthy) set of case summaries in a discreet section at the end of the book. The approach has been revised in this edition, which now provides summaries of the most relevant cases at the end of each substantive chapter and an additional reading list of other cases. The sheer volume of reported cases on limitation issues would have rendered the old approach unwieldy and impracticable. It is far easier to locate the relevant cases at the end of each chapter. The case summaries are designed to provide the key points and quotations whilst avoiding overwhelming the reader with the amount of material. The lists of additional cases will provide a excellent resource for practitioners needing to research a specific issue in more detail.

I suspect I will not be the only reader to turn straight to the chapter on the discretion to disapply the primary limitation period (section 33 of the Limitation Act 1980). Here the writers get straight down to business by quoting at the outset the key paragraphs from the recent case of Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police v Carroll [2017] EWCA civ 1992, which is the current leading authority and will be sufficient for many straightforward applications. The text then provides a nuanced narrative of the key issues which can arise, maintaining clarity without avoiding wading into the intricate caselaw. There is a wealth of material here, ranging from a clear discussion of the relevance of a potential professional negligence claim against the claimant’s advisers to an interesting detail about the possibility of disapplying the limitation period in relation to some but not all of the causes of action in any given case. High profile recent cases like Kimathi and others v Foreign and Commonwealth Office [2018] EWHC 2066 are digested and assessed. The focus is practical, for example reminding the parties that a defendant asserting that the cogency of the evidence is diminished must provide evidence to substantiate the point.

I was also pleased to see substantial chapters addressing service and the various possible ways to attempt to rectify problems with service. Whilst these topics are covered in other works such as the White Book, they are clearly relevant to limitation not least because in many cases there will be a stark choice between attempting to rectify service and re-issuing a fresh claim in reliance on the section 33 discretion. Practitioners will therefore welcome a book which addresses both possibilities. The issues which can arise are difficult and technical. The authors provide a useful and careful commentary on the latest cases.

It may be that in the short term the current crisis enables a more forgiving approach to some limitation issues, though whether that extends to service remains to be seen. In any event, there will continue to be a need for a specialist textbook dealing with limitation issues in personal injury cases. Personal Injury Limitation Law fills that gap impressively. Readers will find it comprehensive in scope, clear in its introduction of the key principles and diligent in its treatment of the caselaw.

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