What is the limitation period for a libel claim?

Judith Thompson

You only have 12 months from the date of publication of a defamatory statement to start court proceedings for damages. The clock starts running the day after the libel was first published.

If you are the victim of libel, the harm to your reputation can be serious. In cases where your reputation is at stake, the law expects you to take action quickly, which is why you only have 12 months. 

The time limits are different from other types of claim. If you are the victim of a breach of contract for example, you would have six years from the date of the breach to start court proceedings.

If you didn't know about the libel when it was published, it is possible that you can have longer than 12 months. However, you would need to take action as soon as you found out about the libel.

In some circumstances, the libel can be repeated but this doesn't start the clock running again. The clock starts running on the date of first publication. This is called the "single publication rule".

If you wait until the very eve of limitation expiring before starting court proceedings, the level of damages you are awarded can be affected. You have to take action quickly, to give yourself the best chance of winning the correct level of damages.

To speak to an expert solicitor about libel, contact us today.