Names appeal to Lords

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The Independent Online
THE House of Lords will this week be asked to make a far-reaching decision on whether a claim by 500 loss-making Lloyd's names should be allowed, or whether it was made too late. In doing so, it will clarify the statute of limitations, which insis ts that people must normally initiate legal action within six years of the date of the event that caused the damage.

The names are claiming compensation on the 1982 year of Outhwaite syndicate 317, and are seeking to overturn an Appeal Court decision that their claim for damages is time-barred. They say that the six-year period should start later than 1982, because Mr Outhwaite and his agency concealed matters that had caused heavy losses that year. The timespan should run from when they knew about the concealment, they argue.

The Lords appeal follows a success and then a reversal in the lower courts. In October 1993, the London High Court ruled that the Outhwaite names could rely on deliberate concealment, if they could prove it, even if it took place after the event which caused the claim. However, last July, the Court of Appeal ruled that the concealment argument was invalid if the alleged concealment happened after the event.

Richard Fielding, chairman of the 1982 Outhwaite Names Association, which represents the petitioning names, said he was "very optimistic" of a successful result. Other Lloyd's action groups facing similar time-bars could stand to gain, he added.