Time limits – calculating time

The Acts Interpretation Act 1954 (Qld) (AIA) deals with the calculation of time limits when time limits are specified in any Act. It is important that any time limits are calculated correctly.

The following points will assist you to do so. However, you should note that these general principles can be expressly modified by an Act that is relevant to your matter.


“Business day” means a day that is not a Saturday or Sunday; or a public holiday, special holiday or bank holiday in the place in which any relevant act is to be or may be done (s 36 AIA).

“Calendar month” means a period starting at the beginning of any day of one of the 12 named months and ending immediately before the beginning of the corresponding day of the next named month; or if there is no such corresponding day-at the end of the next named month. For example, the period commencing on 21 January and ending 20 February, or the period commencing on 31 January and ending on 28 February is a calendar month (s 36 AIA).

“Excluded day” means:

  1. for filing or registering a document – a day on which the relevant office at which the documents must be filed or registered is closed; or
  2. otherwise, a day that is not a business day in the place in which the thing must or may be done.

Counting time limits

If an Act specifies a number of ‘clear days’ or refers to, for example, ‘at least 21 days’, you do not count the day that the cause of action arose, but start counting from the day after that. You also do not count the final day (i.e. 21st day) as the last; instead you would count the next day (i.e. 22nd day) as the last (s 38 (1) AIA).

If an Act does not refer to ‘clear days’ or ‘at least XX days’, you still do not count the day the cause of action arose. However, you would count the final day (e.g,, 21st day) as the last day by which something must be done (s 38 AIA).

If the last day falls on an ‘excluded day’, then the final day is the next day that is not an excluded day. So, for example, if the final day for filing a court document calculated using the rules above falls on a Saturday, then the final day for filing is the following Monday (s 38 AIA).

To count a long limitation period, follow the rules above, but extend the period over several years. For example, if a cause of action such as negligence arose on Tuesday 13 October 2009, you have three years to commence proceedings. The first day is the day after the fact or incident occurred, in this case 14 October 2009. The last day of the three years is 13 October 2012, so the limitation period expires on the anniversary of the fact that gave rise to the cause of action (s38(1) AIA).

If the last day is a Saturday, Sunday or public holiday, the action is not statute barred if the proceedings are issued on the next business day. For example, in the above example, as 13 October 2012 is a Saturday, proceedings issued on Monday 15 October 2012 are not statute barred (s 38(2) AIA).