(C) VINDICATION OF PROPRIETARY RIGHTS

Determining the appropriate limitation period for restitutionary claims which are founded on the vindication of proprietary rights is a matter of some complexity, depending on the nature of the property in which the claimant has a proprietary interest and the nature of the restitutionary claim. The following principles will be particularly relevant to the determination of the appropriate limitation period for such claims.

(i) Land

Where the claimant brings an action to recover land, the claim is subject to a limitation period of 12 years.[1] Once the limitation period has passed the title of the owner of the land is automatically extinguished,[2] so the claimant ceases to have a proprietary base on which he or she can found a proprietary restitutionary claim.

(ii) Restitutionary Claims in Respect of Converted Goods

Where the claimant’s property has been converted, his or her claim is subject to a six-year limitation period because conversion is a tort. Where, however, the property is converted again, before the claimant is able to recover it, there is no new limitation period for the second conversion.50 So, for example, if D1 converts the claimant’s property on 1 January 2011 and D2 converts the same property on 1 January 2016, the claimant only has one year to sue D2. Once the limitation period has passed in respect of any action relating to conversion the claimant’s title to it is extinguished.51

  • [1] Limiting Liability in Equity’ (2015) LQR 39. 48 Limitation Act 1980, s 15.
  • [2] Ibid, s 17. 50 Ibid, s 3(1). 51 Ibid, s 3(2). 52 Ibid, s 4(1).
 
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