The Limitation Act 1953 is a crucial piece of legislation in Malaysia that sets time limits within which legal actions must be initiated. It aims to ensure legal certainty and fairness by preventing the indefinite threat of lawsuits and encouraging timely resolution of disputes. This article explores the key aspects and implications of the Limitation Act in Malaysia.

Key Provisions of the Limitation Act 1953

  1. General Time Limits:
    • Contract and Tort Claims: Under Section 6 of the Act, actions founded on contracts and torts must be initiated within six years from the date the cause of action accrues. This is to ensure that claims are made while evidence is still fresh and to provide certainty for all parties involved.
    • Land Recovery: Actions to recover land must be commenced within twelve years, as per Section 9. This longer period acknowledges the complexity and significance of land disputes.
    • Enforcement of Judgments: The enforcement of judgments, whether domestic or foreign, is subject to a twelve-year limitation period under Section 6(3).
  2. Exceptions and Extensions:
    • Disability: If the person entitled to bring an action is under a disability (e.g., minors or individuals with mental incapacity), the limitation period is extended. The time limit starts running once the disability ceases.
    • Fraud and Mistake: In cases of fraud or mistake, the limitation period begins when the plaintiff discovers or could have reasonably discovered the fraud or mistake. This provision is crucial for ensuring justice in cases where deceit is involved.
    • Acknowledgment and Part Payment: Acknowledgment of a debt or part payment can reset the limitation period. This means if a debtor acknowledges a debt or makes a part payment, the six-year limitation period starts anew from the date of acknowledgment or payment.
  3. Special Provisions:
    • Personal Injury Claims: For personal injury claims, Section 7 states that actions must be commenced within three years from the date of injury or from the date when the plaintiff became aware of the injury.
    • Public Authorities: Actions against public authorities must be brought within three years, reflecting the need for timely claims against government bodies to avoid prolonged uncertainty in public administration.

Implications of the Limitation Act

The Limitation Act serves multiple purposes in the Malaysian legal system:

  • Legal Certainty: By imposing time limits, the Act provides legal certainty for potential defendants, ensuring they are not subject to indefinite threats of litigation.
  • Encouraging Diligence: Plaintiffs are encouraged to pursue their claims promptly, which helps in the collection of fresh evidence and witnesses, thereby supporting a fair trial process.
  • Balancing Interests: The Act balances the interests of plaintiffs and defendants, ensuring that justice is served while preventing the abuse of legal processes.

Practical Considerations

Legal practitioners in Malaysia must be acutely aware of the Limitation Act’s provisions to effectively advise their clients. Missing a limitation period can result in the dismissal of a case, regardless of its merits. Therefore, timely legal action is paramount.

For individuals and businesses, understanding the Limitation Act can help in making informed decisions about when to pursue legal action. Whether it’s a contract dispute, a tort claim, or a land recovery issue, knowing the relevant time limits is essential for protecting legal rights.


The Limitation Act 1953 is a foundational element of Malaysian law, designed to promote fairness, prevent undue delay in legal proceedings, and ensure the timely resolution of disputes. By setting clear time limits for various types of legal actions, the Act helps maintain the integrity and efficiency of the legal system. For anyone involved in legal disputes in Malaysia, understanding the provisions of the Limitation Act is crucial for ensuring that their rights are upheld within the prescribed timeframes.

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