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Injury, accident, instructions (You said what?)

In Byrne v Hudson [2007] IESC the Plaintiff lost his eye when an adult son of the owners of 84 Windmill Rd. Crumlin in Dublin shot him with a paint ball gun from the upstairs window of that house.
The Plaintiff instructed his solicitor. However, the Plaintiff failed to tell the solicitor of certain circumstances actually known to him. Those circumstances were that the father of the adult son no longer lived at 84 Windmill Rd. and that the occupier was the mother. (The adult son also did not live at the address.)
Consequently, when the solicitor issued proceedings, the adult son and the father were named as the defendants, the latter as the occupier of the premises. As he was not the occupier, the action was bound to fail against him. Much later the Plaintiff joined the mother. She pleaded the Statute of Limitations 1957, as amended. The Plaintiff pleaded the Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Act 1991 in reply. Under this amending act time does not begin to run until a victim knows or with reasonable inquiry can know the identity of the person who has wronged him or her.
The mother claimed that the time within which the Plaintiff could effectively and successfully issue proceedings against her had long since expired. The Supreme Court agreed with her. It found that the Plaintiff could not avail of the provisions of the Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Act 1991 in circumstances where not only could he easily find out the relevant facts (that the mother was the only occupier) but that he actually knew this when he instructed his solicitor (and failed to tell him).
(What was at issue, [it is surmised], was the probable availability of insurance cover for the Plaintiff’s claim. That cover was to benefit the occupier and not anyone else. The adult son was not welcome in the house; he would not have been an insured person. The father was not an occupier; he would not have had cover. Only the mother as occupier would have been covered. She was the proper and preferred defendant.)
(Currently, an injured person has two years to issue proceedings and to stop time running against him or her. Only if the Statute of Limitations (Amendment) Act 1991 applies, will that time not start running at the accrual of the cause of action (the date of the injury)).

It is unwise to make a quick judgment on whether time has run against a claim or not. This post should not be relied upon to determine that question in any case. See the post “Disclaimer!” in this blog.

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