Fatal Injuries Bill, 1954—Report and Final Stages.

Since I put down amendment No. 1, following the Committee Stage, I had the advantage of a consultation with the Attorney-General and with representatives of the Parliamentary Draftsman's Office. I am satisfied now that my amendment is not necessary.

Amendment No. 1 not moved.

I move amendment No. 2:—

In page 3, Section 3, to delete sub-section (7), lines 9 and 10, and substitute the following sub-section:—

(7) The action shall be commenced within three years after the date of the death of the person whose death is alleged to have been caused by a tort, or within one year after the date upon which probate or letters of administration are granted in respect of the estate of the alleged tort-feasor, whichever period shall be the less.

I raised this on the Committee Stage and I do not know what view the Minister would take of it. The point I tried to make on the Committee Stage was that it might be rather severe, in the case of certain estates, if an estate had to be held up for completion of its administration with the possibility of an action pending. Therefore, I suggested that, in that case, the period should be one year. I merely put that forward as a suggestion.

We have reconsidered the point in this amendment, but I am afraid that we are still unable to accept the amendment. While there is much to be said for the argument that the estate of a deceased person should be fully administered as soon as possible after his death, the proposal in the amendment could, if accepted, cause hardship and injustice in some cases. Under the amendment, the dependents of a person killed in an accident could lose their cause of action before they had ever gained it. This would occur where administration was forthwith taken out to the estate of a wrongdoer, who died immediately after the accident, and the person wrongfully injured did not die for another 18 months. The general rule in all limitation enactments is that time is to run from the date the cause of action accrued and not from any other date. Senators will remember the injustice which could occur under the Public Authorities Protection Act, 1893 (which we repealed in 1954), where the time ran from the date of the act of the public authority and not from the date the plaintiff suffered the injury. Therefore, I am not accepting the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment No. 3, in my name, stands in the same position now as amendment No. 1. It also has been considered by the legal advisers and, again, I am satisfied now that the section might stand.

Amendment No. 3 not moved.

Amendment No. 4, which stands in my name, is in the same position as amendments Nos. 1 and 3.

Amendment No. 4 not moved.
Bill received for final consideration.
Agreed to take remaining stage now.
Question—"That the Bill do now pass"—put and agreed to.