(ii) Restitutionary Claims Founded on Equitable Wrongs

Where the claim is founded on the commission of one of the equitable wrongs generally no specific provision for limitation periods is made in the statute. There are, however, particular statutory provisions in respect of certain claims founded on equitable wrongdoing. So, for example, where the claimant sues the defendant for non-fraudulent breach of trust, there is a six-year statutory limitation period,42 although this will not apply where the claim is brought against a fraudulent trustee.43 Outside of this, the usual six-year limitation periods are not applicable as regards the granting of equitable relief save by analogy with the rules on contract and tort.[1] Where the Act is not applicable, the equitable doctrine of laches will apply instead. It has, however, been recognized that where a defendant is alleged to have breached his or her fiduciary duty, whether deliberately and dishonestly[2] or honestly, [3] the normal statutory limitation period of six years applies by analogy with the rules for breach of contract and tort. Similarly, where the defendant is liable for dishonestly assisting a breach of trust or fiduciary duty, the usual six-year limitation period is applicable.[4] Even though the assistant will have acted dishonestly, which might constitute fraudulent conduct, they are not trustees and are only subject to a personal liability to the claimant, so cannot be characterized as a fraudulent trustee to disapply the limitation period.

  • [1] Trustee Act 1925, s 36(1).
  • [2] Paragon Finance pic v DB Thakerar and Co (a firm) [1999] 1 All ER 400; Coulthard v Disco Mix Club Ltd[2000] 1 WLR 707.
  • [3] Cia de Seguros Imerio v Health (REBX) Ltd [2001] 1 WLR 112.
  • [4] Williams v Central Bank of Nigeria [2014] UKSC 10, [2014] 1 AC 1189. See J Lee, ‘Constructing and
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