Can patients pursue legal action after the three-year limitation period?

Date published

27/04/2022

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Kennedys Healthcare team is a regular contributor to ‘The Hong Kong Medical Association News’, a monthly publication by The Hong Kong Medical Association. In this April 2022 edition, Partner Christine Tsang discusses a recent court case in relation to the question 'Can patients pursue legal action after the three-year limitation period?'

Similar to personal injury claims, medical negligence claims are restricted to a time limitation period of three years from when “the cause of action accrued” or the date of the plaintiff’s actual or constructive “knowledge” of the injury. Exceptions to the rule include plaintiff being a minor or a mentally incapacitated person under the Mental Health Ordinance (Cap 136). 

Under s.27 of the Limitation Ordinance (LO) (Cap 347), time starts running from the cause of action (i.e. date of accident and/or date when the plaintiff was injured) or date of knowledge (i.e. knowing that the injury was attributable to the defendant), whichever is later. However, s.30 of LO also says court would have the power to override time limits.

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