Defamation Law and Limitations of Action Update

Recent High Court Decision: Hynes, Peter v Allied Irish Banks plc (20/4/218 No. 2015/1421 P [2018] IEHC 229)

Summary: The Respondent issued proceedings against the bank claiming defamation of character following the registration of a judgment mortgage against the title to his property in February 2015. Prior to hearing the substantive issue, however, the matter came before the High Court for the consideration of a preliminary technical point. It required determining as to whether or not the proceedings are statute barred by virtue of the provisions of s. 11(2)(c) of the Statute of Limitations 1957 (as inserted by s. 38 of the Defamation Act 2009) where the cause of action alleged in the statement of claim accrued to the plaintiff more than two years prior to the commencement of the within proceedings.

Decision of the Court: Binchy J held that the Respondent’s claim for damages for defamation of his character had not been issued within the time limits prescribed by the 1957 Act and as such was statute barred. The Court held that the proceedings must be dismissed in so far as they were concerned with a claim for defamation of the Respondent’s character.

Comment: It is imperative, when claims arise that individuals act in a prompt fashion and seeks the appropriate legal advice. As is evident from this judgment, potential claims run the risk of being dismissed in their entirety under the Statute of Limitations.    

Brady Kilroy