Statute of Limitation on Contractual Claims
By the provision of Section 8 (1) (a) of the Limitation law of Lagos State (2003), a claimant is barred from bringing an action founded on contract before the court once it is over 6 years from when the cause of action accrued. This is reproduced thus:
"The following actions shall not be brought after the expiration of six years from the date on which the cause of action accrued:- (a) actions founded on simple contract; (b) actions founded on quasi-contract."
Similarly, the Supreme Court has held in Asaboro v. Pan Oceanic Oil Corporation (Nig.) Ltd (2017) 7 NWLR (1563)42 @ 68 (B-C) that:
“An action instituted after the expiration of the prescribed period is said to be statute barred. In other words, where limitation of time is imposed in a statute, unless that same law makes provision for extension of time, the Courts have their hands tied from extending the time as the action filed outside the stipulated period will lapse by effluxion of time”.
From the above provisions of the law, it is crystal clear that as a preliminary issue of law, for a Claimant to succeed in his claims before the Court, such claims must have been brought within the period when the cause of action crystalized, or within the time allowed by the law, else, once the action is brought outside the limitation period, same automatically robs the Court of its jurisdiction, the said claim(s) is liable to be struck out. See Asaboro v. Pan Oceanic Oil Corporation (Nig.) Ltd (Supra).
Therefore, it is imperative that one of the first things to look out for when instituting claims based on contractual obligations is the time at which the cause of action accrued. Whilst there are other things to look out for, it goes without saying that this could be a turning point in litigation proceedings should the court find the claim to be statute barred.