Understanding the Statute of Limitations in QLD

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Many individuals encounter the common query, “Does debt go away after 7 years in Australia?” The concept of a ‘seven-year rule’ is often surrounded by misconceptions and misunderstandings. This guide sheds light on the reality of the debt statute of limitations in QLD. dispel common myths, and provide you with a clear understanding of your responsibilities and rights as a debtor. 

Statute Barred Debt in QLD

A debt becomes “statute barred” if a certain period has passed since the debtor last made a payment or acknowledged the debt and the creditor has not taken legal action to recover the debt.

Under the Limitation of Actions Act 1974 in Queensland, this period is typically 6 years for most types of debts. This means that if you have an obligation and you have made no payments or acknowledgements towards it for 6 years, and the creditor has not commenced court proceedings to recover the debt, then the debt may become “statute barred.”

When a debt is statute-barred, it means the law (the “statute”) prevents (or “bars”) the creditor from taking legal action to recover the debt. In other words, the debt has remained, but the creditor’s ability to use the courts to enforce payment of the debt is limited.

Please note that applying this principle can be complex and depends on specific facts, such as the type of debt and actions taken by both debtor and creditor. Paying or acknowledging the debt in writing could restart the 6 years. Also, some debts, like fines or penalties imposed by a court, may never become statute-barred.

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Statute Of Limitations On Debt Duration

The Limitation of Actions Act 1974 sets the timeframe for when legal proceedings can be initiated to recover a debt. Here is a more detailed explanation:

  • Simple Contract Debts: For most types of debts, including credit card debt, personal loan debt, and utility bills, the limitation period is 6 years from the date the cause of action arose. This usually refers to when the debt became due and payable, typically when you missed a payment or defaulted on the debt.
  • Court Judgments: If a creditor has obtained a court judgment against you within the 6-year, they have 12 years to enforce the judgment. This timeframe can be extended upon application to the court.
  • Restarting the Limitation Period: It’s important to note that specific actions can restart the limitation period. For instance, if you pay the debt or acknowledge the debt in writing, the clock resets, and the limitation period begins anew.
  • Statute-Barred Debts: Once the limitation period has passed, the debt is often referred to as ‘statute barred’. This means that while the debt still exists, the law prevents the creditor from taking court action to recover it. However, they may still contact you to request payment, and the debt may continue to affect your credit rating.
  • Exceptions: Not all types of debts are subject to these limitations. For instance, fines or penalties imposed by a court, and certain types of tax debts, may never become statute-barred.

Dos And Don’ts on Statute-Barred Debts

Handling statute-barred debts can be a delicate matter. Here are some general “dos” and “don’ts” when dealing with such situations:


  1. Do Understand Your Rights: It’s crucial to know that once a debt becomes statute-barred, the creditor can no longer sue you for the debt. However, the debt does not disappear and could still affect your credit rating.
  2. Do Check Your Records: Validate the debt status by checking your financial records for the last payment date or the last time you acknowledged the debt.
  3. Do Seek Legal Advice: If you believe a debt is statute-barred, consider seeking advice from a legal professional to understand your position fully. Laws vary depending on the jurisdiction, so local legal advice is often beneficial.
  4. Do Communicate Carefully: If you’re interacting with a creditor or debt collector about a potentially statute-barred debt, be cautious with your words. Only commit to paying if you’re ready to do so.

Also read: 9 Tips for QLD Tenants Before Signing Commercial Lease


  1. Don’t Ignore Communication: Pay attention to any letters or calls from the creditor or debt collector. It’s essential to stay informed about the status of your debt.
  2. Don’t Acknowledge the Debt Unnecessarily: Be careful about acknowledging the debt, as this can sometimes restart the statute of limitations. An acknowledgement could be as simple as making a promise to pay.
  3. Don’t Make a Payment: Making even a small payment towards the debt can restart the limitation period in some jurisdictions. Before making any payment, ensure you understand the potential implications.
  4. Don’t Assume All Debts Are the Same: Remember, not all types of debts are subject to a statute of limitations. Certain debts like student loans, child support, and tax debts often have different rules.

Does Debt Go Away After 7 Years Australia

Most unsecured debts (like credit card debt or personal loans) become ‘statute-barred’ after a certain period of inactivity. This typically means you are no longer legally obliged to pay them.  The limitation period is generally six years in most states and territories, with the Northern Territory having a three-year limit. 

The clock starts from the last time you paid or acknowledged the debt in writing. However, it’s important to note that the debt doesn’t entirely disappear, and specific exceptions exist for some types of debts.

Applying Statute of Limitations to an Old Debt in Queensland

A client came to Walker Pender Group after a creditor began demanding payment on a debt 15 years after her last payment. She was under the belief that this account was closed and settled. We reviewed her case, determining that the debt was a simple contract debt.

Under the Queensland Limitation of Actions Act 1974, such debt is subject to a six-year statute of limitations. We effectively communicated this legal standpoint to the creditor, emphasising the expiry of their legal right to enforce the debt after this time limit.

With our professional legal guidance, the creditor ceased their claims, providing our client with peace of mind. This case illustrates the importance of legal understanding in complex debt situations and how Walker Pender Group can support individuals facing such challenges.

Facing an old debt and unsure about the ‘statute of limitations QLD debt’ rules? 

Walker Pender Group can help. With our expert commercial lawyers, we’ll guide you through your rights and help you navigate complex debt situations. Don’t let old debts haunt you. Contact us today, and let us assist you in understanding and managing your legal and financial obligations efficiently and confidently.

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