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Aer Lingus Plc v Gildacroft Ltd & Sentinal Lifts Ltd, Queen's Bench Division, 24th June 2004

25 July 2005
The issues

Limitation – Indemnity – Civil Liability (Contribution) Act 1978 – Whether Time For Claiming Contribution Runs From Judgment On Liability Or Judgment On Quantum

The facts

Mr Smyth, an employee of Aer Lingus, had an accident when his left arm was trapped in a lift which had malfunctioned. He sued Aer Lingus and on 9th May 2001 a consent Judgment was entered on the issue of liability against Aer Lingus.

In September 2003 the claim was settled for £490,000.00. On 4th February 2004 Aer Lingus started contribution proceedings against Gildacroft claiming an indemnity under the Civil Liability (Contribution) Act 1978.

Gildacroft pleaded that the claim was statute barred.

The decision

The Limitation Act Section 10 provided for a 2 year period in which a claim under the Civil Liability (Contribution) Act 1978 could be brought. The date from which that period ran was the date from which the wrongdoer claiming contribution was “held liable in respect to that damage”. The issue before the Court was whether the relevant Judgment was a Judgment on liability or the Judgment on quantum.

Giving the words “held liable in respect of that damage by” their natural meaning, the relevant judgment was that on liability. Consequently the proceedings for contribution were stature barred.

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