Probate Practice Guide by Karl Dowling BL

The Limitation of Actions & Time Limits

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The Limitation of Actions & Time Limits in Probate Practice (& Associated Practical Issues)


In Gleeson v Feehan and Purcell the Supreme Court stated that;

“the limitation period which applies [to claim by personal representatives] is the period of twelve years provided by section 13(2) of the Act of 1957 for claims for the recovery of land.”


Therefore, the time limited for personal representatives to bring an action to recover property belonging to the estate is twelve years from the date of which the cause of action first accrued, the date of death.

Again, there is some variance of opinion here. On one hand, most, if not all of the probate textbooks do not make a distinction as between real and personal property for the purpose of the twelve-year period of limitation, however, Canny in The Limitation of Actions, clearly states that;

“an action to…recover personal property must be brought within six years.”

In support of this contention, the author cites section 12(2) of the Statute of Limitations 1957.

It is important to note that whilst it is well established that an executor can institute proceedings prior to extracting the grant (but the grant will be necessary before the hearing of the action), an administrator only derives their title from the grant of letters of administration and prior to the grant, will not have the necessary capacity in order to institute proceedings on behalf of the estate.


By | 2020-12-18T01:21:26+00:00 November 9th, 2016|Papers, Probate|0 Comments

About the Author:

Karl Dowling is a Barrister at Bar of Ireland & Bar of England and Wales. He is editor of the Irish Probate Journal and Committee member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) Ireland and coordinator of the Law Society's Certificate & Diploma in Trust and Estate Planning.