12 years limitation

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Myself and my husband had our house repossesed in 1991 by Abbey National. About 2 years later they traced us but we ignored all correspondence. Shortly after that we split up and I went to live in America. To be honest I forgot all about the matter.

Last year I returned to UK and low and behold I received letters from AB and their solicitors threatening to take me to Court. The amount is so large (needless to say the house was sold well below the going value) I just didn't know what to do so I just ignored them again. Bit silly maybe but in May last year I got about 7 letters in the space of a couple of weeks the last one being pretty threatening. Since then I have heard nothing. I wondered why then I saw this site. Could it be because the 12 years have expired? If so does this mean that the debt will be written off even though nothing has been paid?

-- lynsey ellis (lynsey@centralpets.com), January 18, 2003



You probably haven't heard any more due to the Appeal Court case last July 'Bristol & West v Bartlett'. See info below:

The headline news is that the Court of Appeal has decided that s.20 of the Limitation Act 1980 is intended to provide a complete code for mortgages.

Issues as regards the application of ether s.5 or s.8 do not arise. The dicta of Auld LJ in Hopkinson v Tupper are dead and buried.

Therefore, in respect of capital, the bank has 12 years to commence proceedings after the cause of action accrued, usually when the entire mortgage debt became due on the monthly instalment payment being missed for the second or third month s.20(1) applies.

In respect of interest, it appears that the bank has 6 years from that date to recover interest s.20(5) applies.


It looks, in my opinion, that the alleged shortfall is now statute barred, but please check this out with a solicitor, (preferably one with no vested interest, ie. doesn't carry out conveyancing) as the terms & conditions of the mortgage, I believe can also have an influence. The good thing is you haven't acknowledged the debt as you haven't been in contact with the lender, this could restart the limitation period. So not having contacted the lender may not have been as silly as you think. Well done and Good Luck.


-- M Amos (idgroms@hotmail.com), January 18, 2003.

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