A Supreme Court judgment will be handed down this morning in a case concerning the importance of hours and minutes in calculating limitation periods, in a key decision for litigators.

In Matthew and others v Sedman and others, the Supreme Court is expected clarify ‘midnight deadlines’, and decide whether a cause of action accrues on the same day or the next day when it is constituted at the stroke of midnight.

The respondents in the case were trustees of a trust which could make a claim under a scheme of arrangement. They failed to make a claim on or before the bar date under the scheme of arrangement, which was midnight on Thursday 2 June 2011. The appellants went on to issue a claim form on 5 June 2017, seeking a remedy from the respondents for their failure to make the claim. In response, the respondents argued that the appellants’  negligence claim was brought after the expiry of the limitation periods.

The respondents’ argument rested on the assertion that the cause of action had accrued at the stroke of midnight 3 June 2011, rather than after midnight. Therefore, for the purposes of calculating limitation, Friday 3 June 2011 was to be included and limitation expired on 2 June 2017. Under this argument, the claimants’ claim was time-barred, having been issued more than six years since the cause of action in professional negligence accrued.

Judgment will be handed down remotely at 9.45am.