Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED July 2, 2003

Claims for compensation against the Highways Agency under Part I Land Compensation Act 1973 by the owner of a property which, he contended, had depreciated as a result of traffic noise from a nearby road, were statute-barred.Preliminary limitation issue in two claims by the claimant ('H') against the Highways Agency ('the agency') for compensation under Part I Land Compensation Act 1973 for the reduction in value of his property ('the property') as a result of traffic using the road that ran behind the property. The Channel Tunnel Group Ltd was authorised to construct certain roadworks as scheduled in Part I of Sch.1 Channel Tunnel Act 1987. They included a dual carriageway ('Work No.17') and a short link road ('Work No.17A'). In addition Kent County Council ('the council') was authorised to construct roadworks scheduled in Part II of Sch.1 of the 1987 Act. The property backed on to the Work No.17 dual carriageway. Under s.1(9)(a) of the 1973 Act the relevant date in relation to a claim in respect of a highway was the date on which it was first open to traffic. Section 19(2A) dealt with limitation and provided that for the purpose of the Limitation Act 1980 a person's right of action to recover compensation under Part I was deemed to have accrued on the first claim day, which was defined in s.3(2) as the day following the expiration of 12 months from the relevant date. The agency contended that: (i) the Work No.17 road was opened on 30 March 1990; (ii) H had acquired his interest in the land after that date, on 21 September 1990, and therefore had no right to compensation; and (iii) the first claim day was 31 March 1991 and, since the reference to the Tribunal had been made on 26 February 2002, more than six years after the first claim day, on which the right of action was deemed to have accrued for the purpose of limitation, the claim was statute barred.HELD: (1) Both claims made on behalf of H were claims against the agency. In respect of the first, which related to Work No.17, the relevant date was 30 March 1990, and H did not at that date have an interest qualifying for compensation. Under the second claim, which could only relate to Work No.17A, the relevant date was 19 May 1994. At that date H did have an owner's interest. (2) Under s.9(1) of the 1980 Act an action to recover any sum recoverable under statute was not to be brought after the expiration of six years from the date on which the cause of action accrued. This period of limitation applied in the case of claims under Part I of the 1973 Act and the right of action accrued on the first claim day. The first claim day in relation to the first claim was 31 March 1991. In relation to the second claim it was 20 May 1995. There was nothing to suggest that the agency was estopped from relying on the 1980 Act. H did not have an interest qualifying him for compensation in relation to Work No.17, but he did in relation to Work No.17A. However, that claim would be against the council, not the agency.Claims dismissed.