Are there any limitation periods for commencing disputes in your jurisdiction?


Belgium Small Flag Belgium

Generally speaking, contractual disputes, i.e. disputes arising from a breach of contract, must be brought before the court withing a period of 10 years after the breach, or knowledge thereof.

However, claims relating to minor hidden defects must be brought before the court as soon as reasonably possible after the discovery of the defect.

Note that these rules are default rules (except for the decennial liability – see above)

As for public procurement, the Royal decree of 14 January 2013 on the general rules of performance of public procurement contracts, state that typical contractual claims (unforeseen circumstances, fault of the client, suspension of the works) are to be brought before the courts within a relatively short period of 30 months after provisional acceptance of the works.

Oman Small Flag Oman

Under the ECL, engineering consultants must retain the technical files for all phases of construction projects for which the engineer has prepared the design drawings, or rendered supervisory services inclusive of blue prints, in addition to the contract with the employer for period of not less than 10 years from the completion of the project.

Subject to any lesser limitation periods provided for by law, Article 185 of the CTL introduces an overarching limitation period of fifteen years within which action for compensation for a harmful act may be initiated.

Under Article 637 of the CTL no claim for compensation may be heard after the expiration of three years from the date of collapse of the structure or discovery of the defect.

Articles 21 and 22 of the ECL and Article 634 of the CTL impose decennial liability on both contractors and engineers/design consultants with regards to damage or defects in the building for a period of 10 years commencing from the date of hand--over. Where a consultant is responsible for the preparation of design/ architectural drawings only and not for supervision of construction, the consultant shall be responsible only for defects arising from the drawings. Liability under the ECL could, in theory, include defects of lesser severity than those contemplated under the CTL which refers to major structural failings. The interplay between ECL and the CTL remains to be tested.

Denmark Small Flag Denmark

According to the Danish Limitations Act, the general limitation period is three years calculated from the first day on which the claim holder could demand that his/her claim be fulfilled.

If the claim holder was not aware of the claim, e.g. due to latent defects that only later materialized, the three-year limitation period is calculated from the day the claim holder became or should have become aware of the claim.

However, irrespective of any lack of knowledge, the claim will be statute-barred 10 years after the first day on which the claim holder could demand that the claim be fulfilled, unless the statute of limitation is suspended before that time.

The limitation period is suspended when the claim holder takes legal action against the debtor. It can also be suspended under certain other circumstances.

With regard to claims due to defects, the AB Standards contain deadlines for notification. The contractor and/or the consultant must be notified within a reasonable time after the employer knew or should have known about the defect, and no later than five years after the hand-over, or the employer will forfeit the claim.

Spain Small Flag Spain

Yes, there are limitation periods, the prescription periods which are: 1 year for extracontractual liability and 5 years for personal actions.

Indonesia Small Flag Indonesia

Yes, there is limitation period for commencing civil lawsuit/disputes in Indonesian legal system. In general, it is regulated under Article 1967 of ICC which states that “all legal claims, either inherently related to asset or individual, shall expire due to the statute of limitation after thirty years, and the individual who invokes the expiration shall not be required to submit any title, and an individual cannot object to this expiration if such is based upon bad faith”.

Mexico Small Flag Mexico

In Federal Government contracts, where the Mexican Federal Tribunal of Administrative Justice is competent, there is a statute of limitations of 30 working days. In the case of federal government contracts, where the Federal Judiciary is competent, the statute of limitations is 10 years. However this will be an exception according to recent decisions of the court.

In the case of Private contracts, most statute of limitations is 10 years, which is the general rule for statute of limitations.

Colombia Small Flag Colombia

The most common existing limitation concerning the beginning of disputes is the conciliation as a requirement of procedure. The periods for every step of the dispute are regulated by procedure codes, being the most important of them the General Procedure Code in private disputes, and when the dispute involves the state sector, the Code of Administrative Procedure.

Switzerland Small Flag Switzerland

There are no specific rules or limits to the commencement of disputes, but such are generally dictated and/or limited by the rules on time-barring periods, which the defendant can raise. The right of the customer to bring claims due to defects in the work is generally limited to two years from acceptance of the work if SIA norms are integrated and to five years in a standard contractor’s agreement (i.e. if SIA norms are not integrated). Under the standard CO rules, a claim for defect is only valid if the notice for defect was made immediately, i.e. within 24 to 48 hours from noticing the defect.

Australia Small Flag Australia

Yes, statutory limitation periods apply to prevent parties to a contract from commencing legal proceedings outside of a strict timeframe. However, careful consideration must be taken as time periods vary across jurisdictions and as between agreements and deeds (see further below).

The parties are also free to include contractual time bars for the commencement of disputes.

Security of Payment legislation
In each state and territory, security of payment legislation imposes a time period for issuing a claim or dispute arising out of a contract. This differs across jurisdictions, ranging from 90 days to 1 year from when the dispute arose or when the work was last performed.

Contract and tort
Generally, statutory limitations in each jurisdiction provide that actions arising in tort or contract cannot be brought more than 6 years after the date on which the cause of action accrued (with the exception of the Northern Territory, which has a 3 year limitation period). A cause of action in contract accrues at the date of the breach of contract. In negligence claims, the cause of action accrues when the loss is suffered or incurred.

Where an agreement is formed under a deed, as opposed to an agreement, the limitation period ranges between 12 to 15 years, depending upon the relevant jurisdiction.

Long stop provisions
Long stop provisions in New South Wales and Victoria provide that 'building actions' must be brought within 10 years after the date of the certificate of occupancy or certificate of final inspection.

Norway Small Flag Norway

In regard to claims, the Norwegian Limitation Act of 1979 sets a general limitation period of three years for commencing disputes. The limitation period start to run when the creditor first had the right to demand performance. If the claim has not been made because the creditor did not know of the claim, there is a supplementary limitation period of one year from the date the creditor obtained or should have obtained such knowledge. The maximum limitation period is ten years.

For construction and engineering disputes, the NS contracts provide that the contractor must initiate litigation or arbitration proceedings within eight months after take-over of the contract work.

Sweden Small Flag Sweden

No, not when it comes to construction contract claims. However, the general statutory limitation period (see above) or limitations under the parties’ contract may limit a party’s right to bring a claim.

Hong Kong Small Flag Hong Kong

Yes. Under s.4 of the Limitation Ordinance (Cap. 347), a party must bring a claim for breach of contract within six years (for contracts not executed under seal), or twelve years (for contracts executed under seal), from the date on which the cause of action accrued, being the date of the breach.
For actions in tort (such as claims for negligence), a party must bring an action within six years from the date the cause of action accrued, subject to exceptions. Notably, this limit is extended where the plaintiff discovered the cause of action after the date that it accrued, which is particularly important where an employer wishes to claim for latent defects. Specifically, a plaintiff may bring an action within three years from the earliest date that it had both the required knowledge and the right to bring the action. This exception is subject to a longstop which bars claims brought more than 15 years after the date of the alleged negligent act or omission (Limitation Ordinance ss.31 and 32).

United Kingdom Small Flag United Kingdom

Yes. The Limitation Act 1980 specifies that for an action arising in contract, the limitation period starts at the date of breach and runs for 6 years for a simple contract and 12 years for a deed. Contracts in the industry are usually signed as deeds to take advantage of this extended period. The date of breach is typically taken as the date of practical completion for contractors.

For actions arising in tort, the limitation period is 6 years and runs from the date of damage. However, special rules arise in relation to latent damage (i.e. where the damage is not known to the parties at the date it occurs). In those circumstances, the tortious limitation period may be extended to three years from the date that the damage was (or ought to have been) discovered. This is subject to a longstop date of 15 years from the date of the negligent act.

Different provisions apply to personal injury claims.

United States Small Flag United States

State law governs the limitation period for commencing a construction dispute in the United States As a result, the time limitations for commencing construction claims vary from state to state. Construction professionals must be aware of the specific statutory limitation periods for bringing a claim in each state in which work is performed. Failure to commence a dispute within the time permitted will forever bar the claim.

In addition, some states allow parties to modify certain limitations periods by contract. For example, certain AIA Form Contracts set the time period within which a party may bring a claim for defective construction. Courts in some states, such as California and Illinois, have ruled that contractual limitations periods are enforceable. Construction professionals operating in the United States should be mindful of their ability to curtail the uncertainty of claims by contractually reducing the limitations period for asserting claims.

Serbia Small Flag Serbia

Yes, there are. Pending to the specific legal action and claim undertaken the law provides different time bars to commence legal proceedings and to be granted with the judgment.

UAE Small Flag UAE

Under UAE law, there is no uniform prescription period. The length of time that a claimant must commence its claim depends on the nature of the contract and dispute in question. Construction contracts can be classified as either commercial transactions (in which case the UAE Code of Commercial Practice applies) or a civil transactions (in which case the UAE Civil Code applies). Which Code applies often depends on whether the employer is acting in its capacity as consumer or in the course of a business.

If the Code of Commercial Practice applies then a claimant has 10 years to commence its claim “from the due date for fulfilment of the obligation”. The prescription period for commercial contracts arises from the due date of an obligation, such as the date of delivery of a project or payment, and not from the date that a breach arises.

In contrast, the prescription period for construction contracts that are not classified as commercial transactions is 15 years from when the right falls due by operation of the Civil Code.

Germany Small Flag Germany

The standard limitation period is three years (section 195 of the German Civil Code (BGB)). Unless another date for the beginning of a limitation period is prescribed, the standard limitation period begins to run at the close of the year in which the claim arose and in which the creditor obtained or, in the absence of gross negligence, had to have obtained knowledge of the facts supporting the claim and knowledge of the identity of the debtor.

Austria Small Flag Austria

The limitation period governing claims for works and services is usually 3 years from the date the invoice falls due. However, it is customary in construction contracts to include clauses imposing a duty on the contractor to assert a reservation within a short period of time (within
3 months, as a rule) from the date of correction of the final invoice, if the contractor does not agree to deductions made from the invoice amount. Where that period is not complied with, the contractor will no longer be able to assert the claim in court. There are likewise limitation
periods governing defects or claims for damages. Defects must be asserted within 3 years from the date of handing over. Claims for damages must be asserted within 3 years from the date the claimant became aware of the loss and the party causing the loss.

France Small Flag France

Yes, French law provides for statute of limitation regulations, which will on the nature and on the legal basis of the claim.

Greece Small Flag Greece

In principle, the contractual liability limitation period is twenty (20) years (249 GCC); however, a shorter five-year limitation period is prescribed (250 GCC) for a number of commercial obligations, including the contractor's entitlement to payment under a construction contract. Further, the employer's claims brought in respect of defects are subject to a ten-year limitation period with regard to immovable constructions and a six-month limitation period with regard to movables (693 GCC). In tort, the general rule (937 GCC is a five-year limitation period starting from the date on which the suffering party became aware of the loss, subject to shorter prescription periods provided under criminal laws (if any) and in any case no longer that twenty (20) years running from the date on which the offence took place. It is further noted that any contractual limitation or extension of the statutory limitation periods shall not be valid (275 GCC).

The pre-contractual dispute resolution mechanism laid down by Public Procurement Law (please refer to Question 23 above) sets multiple exclusive time-limits for the lodging of all administrative and judicial recourses; failure of the interested parties to observe the prescribed deadlines leads to inadmissibility of the relevant recourses. As regards any of the contractor's rights stemming from the execution of the contract, Art. 173 of Public Procurement Law introduces a general four-month limitation period. Further, administrative complaints challenging the contracting authority's acts or omissions must be filed within an exclusive period of two (2) months from the date of notification of the disputed act or of the omission, as the case may be (Art. 174 of Public Procurement Law).

Saudi Arabia Small Flag Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabian law does not recognize substantive time bars. Appeals to the Board of Grievances must be initiated within sixty days of the government contract claims tribunal’s decision.

Malaysia Small Flag Malaysia

The general rule within which one is entitled to bring an action in relation to/founded on a breach of contract or tort is six years from the date of which the cause of action accrued (See: Section 6(1) of the Limitation Act 1953). When exactly “the cause of action is accrued” is often the subject of dispute between parties, and there are conflicting judicial decisions in this regard. In AmBank (M) Bhd v Abdul Aziz bin Hassan & Ors [2010] 3 MLJ 784, it was held that a cause of action accrues regardless of whether one discovers the damage, whereas in AmBank (M) Bhd v. Kamariyah bt Hamdan [2013] 5 MLJ 448, it was held that a cause of action only accrues upon knowledge of the damage.

Earlier this year, the Limitation Act 1953 was amended to introduce a provision with regard to latent defects. Under this new provision, if a defect is discovered outside of the limitation period (i.e. 6 years from the date of occurrence of such defect), parties have three years from the date of the knowledge of such defect to commence a claim. However, any claim under this provision is subject to a maximum time bar of 15 years from the date of the occurrence of such defect. (Section 6A of the Limitation (Amendment) Act 2018)

In respect of claims against a government agency or a public servant however, the imposed limitation period is three years starting from the accrued date of the cause of action. (See: Public Authorities Protection Act 1948)

Updated: October 30, 2018