Limitation Period To File Civil Lawsuit In Sarawak : Law Of Contract & Tort


Limitation period refers to the time limit for an aggrieved party to file an action against another party.

In Sarawak the limitation to file civil lawsuit is governed under the Sarawak Limitation Ordinance (Sarawak Cap. 49) and the limitation period for civil lawsuits has been stated in the schedule ( Sections 3 and 6(1) ) of the said Ordinance. The common application on civil suits for breaches of laws usually involved contract and tort.

How long is the limitation period for contract and tort?

The time limit to file an action in relation to the breach of contract is different depends on the case scenario. For instance, the time limit to claim for compensation for breach of contract in writing is a period of six (6) years from the date the contract was breached, however the time limit to claim for compensation for breach of contract NOT in writing will be three (3) years from the date of contract was breached. In addition to that, the time limit to file an action for specific performance for a contract is a period of three (3) years from the date fixed for the performance and the time limit to file an action for rescission of a contract is a period of three (3) years from the date the facts entitling the plaintiff to have the contract rescinded first become known to him.

In tortious claim the time limit for compensation for injury is a period of three (3) years from the date of the injury was committed. If the said injury caused the death of the injured party, the family of the deceased has the rights to claim for compensation for injuries but must comply with the said limitation period.

The lawsuit filed by the aggrieved party may be dismissed on the ground of lapse of limitation period. This was iterated in Sa’ adi bin Ibrahim and Anor v Liew Han Sin and Anor [2006] MLJU 106, where the plaintiff sought to file an action against the defendant on the alleged collision which caused the plaintiff to be injured. However, the Court dismissed the case and ruled that the plaintiff exceeds the limitation period to file an action.

In tort, civil suits on defamation cases involving libel and slander time begins to run not when the party discovered the defamatory statement but when the defamatory statement was communicated. Unlike West Malaysia the aggrieved person has a six (6) years period to file an action against defamation, but in Sarawak to file an action on defamation the limitation period is only one (1) year.


We must take note that the Sarawak Limitation Ordinance differed from the Limitation Act (applicable in West Malaysia) and we must comply with the limitation period when we want to file a civil lawsuit in Sarawak.

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