Limitation of action. This expression refers to the time limit placed on one party to a contract before which he can bring an action against the other party for a claim under the contract.
The time limits that are contained in charterparties and bills of lading (or Hague Visby Rules) have to be adhered to strictly. The purpose of a time limitation is to allow a person against whom an action is brought (for example, by a cargo claimant against a shipowner) to be protected by restricting the opportunity of the claimant to bring the action. Therefore, if one party to a contract seeks protection, the courts will be reluctant to allow this protection to be enjoyed too easily. They will construe the contracts very strictly.