LIMITATION LAW – LIMITATION PERIOD – Limitation period on action founded on contract; effect of bringing an action outside the limitation period


“I agree with him entirely that the appellant’s action at the trial Court was in respect of an alleged breach of contract between him and the respondent in respect of a dealership contract. The parties are ad idem that the cause of action accrued in 1999. The record shows that the suit was filed on 30/4/2007, about eight years later. The purport and effect of a statute of limitation, such as the Plateau State Limitation Edict No. 16 of 1988 is that where the statute prescribes a period within which an action should be brought, legal proceedings cannot validly be brought or instituted after the expiration of the prescribed period. An action brought after the prescribed period is said to be statute-barred. It was held in Amadi & Anor. V. INEC (2012) LPELR – 7831 (SC) @ 31-32 D-E, that the essence of a limitation law is that the legal right to enforce an action is not a right in perpetuity, but a right generally limited by statute. Consequently, where the action is bought outside the prescribed period, the Court is divested of jurisdiction to entertain the matter, as it is no longer a live issue. See also: Egbe V. Adefarasin (1987) 1 NWLR (Pt.47); Hassan V. Aliyu (2010) 17 NWLR (Pt.1223) 547. It was further held in Sulgrave Holdings Inc. & Ors. V. Federal Government of Nigeria & Ors. (2012) LPELR -15520 (SC) @ 36 A-D, that the purpose of a Limitation Law is to require diligent prosecution of known claims, thereby providing predictability and finality in legal affairs. The applicable provision of the Plateau State Limitation Law (Edict No.16 of 1988) is Section 18 thereof, which provides: “No action founded on contract, tort or any other action not specifically provided for in parts (i) and (ii) of this edict shall be brought after the expiration of five years from the date on which the cause of action accrued…” Section 14 of the Law is inapplicable to the facts of this case, there being no pleading relating to a mortgage or charge. I agree with my learned brother, that the appellant’s claim, founded on breach of contract was statute-barred having been filed outside the 5 years prescribed by the Limitation Law. I agree with the sound reasoning and conclusion that the appeal lacks merit. It is accordingly dismissed.” Per. KEKERE-EKUN, J.S.C. in ADAMU ABUBAKAR v. MICHELIN MOTOR TYRE SERVICES LTD (LCER-2020-39147-SC) at p. 18 – p. 20.

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