Time for a brief note on Gallagher v ACC Bank, the Solid World Bond case. Yesterday, the Supreme Court reversed the High Court’s decision and found that the plaintiff’s negligence claim is time-barred. Earlier press reports suggest that this is a test case for a very large number of disappointed investors, so it’s a big victory for the bank. The Court ruled that the plaintiff’s cause of action accrued at the moment the investment was made, so that the general six-year statute of limitations for tort claims started to run on that date. The upshot is that the plaintiff couldn’t extend the limitations period by framing his claim in tort rather than in contract.
Roddy Bourke of McCann Fitzgerald provides a very useful summary of the decision here (pdf; thanks to Rossa McMahon for drawing my attention to the summary via Twitter). I have seen judgments by Judges Fennelly and O’Donnell, but they haven’t yet been uploaded to the Courts Service website. By way of preview: Judge Fennelly engages in a long discussion (and some criticism) of the voluminous English case law on the accrual of causes of action in tort for financial loss. Judge O’Donnell calls for legislative action in this field. He is keen on the general idea that where a tort claim arises from a contractual assumption of responsibility, the limitation period should be the same however the plaintiff frames his claim; Judge Fennelly is not so enamoured of this notion.
I’ll try to post links to these judgments when they become available, perhaps some time next week.