What, if any, are the relevant limitation periods in your jurisdiction?
Litigation (2nd edition)
Limitation periods are determined by substantive law, which provides for a limitation period of 30 years as a default rule if no special provisions stipulate otherwise. The most relevant limitation period is, however, three years; it applies to most civil law claims such as claims for damages, claims for specific performance and claims for the delivery of goods. It needs to be noted that a number of specific provisions sets out other limitation periods.
The statute of limitations generally commences when a right could have been first exercised (e.g. for damage claims when the injured party becomes aware of the injuring party and the damage). Moreover, the statute of limitations is not observed ex officio, but must be pleaded by the defendant.
In principle, the limitation period for contractual claims is 10 years from when it becomes possible to exercise the claimant’s rights (Civil Code, Articles 166(1) and 167(1)). However, the limitation period for commercial transaction claims is five years (Commercial Code, Article 522). In addition, the Civil Code provides for shorter limitation periods for certain types of contractual claims. For example, the limitation period is two years for claims pertaining to prices of products or goods sold by manufacturers, or wholesale or retail merchants (Civil Code, Article 173(i)). However, most of these short-term statute of limitations and the limitation period for commercial transaction claims will be abolished and the varying limitations periods will be unified when the most recent amendments to the Civil Code take effect in April 2020.
The General limitation is now 5 years but since it used to be 30 years in civil matters and 10 years in commercial matters, the new limitation period only started to run on the date when the new statute came into force. There may also be longer or shorter limitations depending on the nature of the claim or the parties involved.
The limitation period for civil claims are three years unless otherwise provided by law. The period starts from the date on which the right holder knows or should have known that the right has been damaged. Courts in China will not protect a party’s right for more than 20 years from the date the damage occurs.
There are several exceptions of the general three-year period. For example, Article 129 of the Contract Law of PRC says lawsuit for an international sale of goods contract and a technology import and export contract are time-barred after 4 years from the date to be calculated; Article 45 of Product Quality Law of PRC says that the statutory limitation for legal actions involving claims for compensation for damage caused by a defect in a product shall be 2 years; Article 135 and 171 of Civil Aviation Law of PRC says air transport litigation as well as disputes regarding compensation for damage to a third party on the ground shall be time-barred after 2 years.
The normal limitation period for an action for breach of contract or in tort is three years from the date when the cause of action accrued, this representing the standard limitation period in bringing up a claim.
In contract law, the limitation period starts from the date of the breach. In cases of misrepresentation or mistake on the conclusion of a deed, the limitation period of three years for the right to request cancellation of the deed does not start until the claimant or its representative has discovered the grounds for cancellation (but no later than 18 months from signing the challenged deed).
In tort law, the limitation is usually triggered from when the party knew, or should have known, both that the damage occurred and the identity of the person who caused it.
In principle, claims in relation to immovable property (restitution claims of lands or buildings) are not subject to any statute of limitations, the rightful owner being entitled to claim the property at any time.
The Limitation of Actions Law of 2012 (Law 66(I)/2012) (the “Limitation Law”) provides for different limitation periods depending on the nature of the claim. The general limitation period for claims founded in tort or contract is 6 years, although shorter limitation periods apply in respect of specific torts (including defamation (1 year), malicious falsehood (1 year), negligence (3 years), nuisance (3 years) and breach of statutory duty (3 years). The courts have the power to extend the prescribed limitation periods by up to two years if they consider this to be just and reasonable in the circumstances, subject to the proviso that no claim can be brought after the expiration of 10 years from the date on which the relevant cause of action is completed. In general, the prescribed limitation periods begin to run from the time the cause of action is completed or from 1 January 2016, whichever time is latest. The Limitation Law also contains provisions regarding the circumstances in which the running of the prescribed limitation periods may be postponed or suspended as well as transitional provisions with respect to causes of actions based on facts occurring before 1 July 2012 when the Limitation Law entered into force. It should be noted that the provisions of the Limitation Law do not affect the limitation periods in respect of specific types of claims that are prescribed in other statutes, such as the statutes governing liability for defective products, the administration of estates and the specific performance of contracts for the sale of land.
It follows from the Danish Limitation Act that the main rule is that a claim is time-barred after three years calculated from the earliest time the creditor could have demanded payment of his claim. The beginning of the three year-period can be suspended until the creditor obtains knowledge or should have known of his claim.
However, the Limitation Act also stipulates that in any event, the limitation of a claim is 10 years calculated from the day of the event that caused the damages, regardless of the creditor’s knowledge or constructive knowledge of his claim or the identity of the debtor. For special cases a longer limitation period apply, e.g. personal injury cases.
Bringing legal action against the debtor or entering into a suspension/tolling agreement is one of the various ways in which the limitation period can be suspended or prolonged.
The limitation period varies depending on the nature of the disputed claim. Generally, the limitation period for filing a civil case is fifteen years after the elapse of the disputed obligation, while the period for filing a commercial case is seven years. However, there are certain exceptions to the general rule in which the limitation period may vary, for example taxes related claims have a limitation period of five years.
The general limitation period is 3 years from the date when the claimant became aware or should have become aware of violation of its right and of the proper defendant for the claim, but in no case may a limitation period exceed 10 years from the date of violation.
The legislative acts may provide for different limitation periods in respect of certain types of claims (for example, a claim for challenging a voidable transaction may be filed within 1 year).
As opposed to some foreign jurisdictions, limitation periods cannot be changed by agreement of the parties. Notable that limitation periods in Russia are a matter of substantive rather than procedural law.
The relevant limitation periods in Mexico are as follows:
a) One year for disputes arising from ordinary sales, wages, liability of brokers, and naval repairs.
b) Three years for the execution of promissory notes, and other debentures in executive commercial trial.
c) Five years for shareholders disputes and responsibility of liquidators.
d) Ten years for all other disputes not provided for.
e) Class actions are to be filed within three years and six months from the moment the damage occurred.
The limitation period runs from the day the action could have been filed.
Under German law, rules on limitation periods are part of the substantive law, i.e. they are not part of the procedural lex fori of the court.
According to sec. 195, 199 of the German Civil Code (BGB), the general limitation period for civil claims is three years starting from the end of the year the plaintiff became aware of the relevant prerequisites constituting the respective claim. However, there are numerous special provisions (in the BGB as well as in other statutes) with different limitation periods or substantive cut-off periods (e.g. sec. 626 (2) BGB: two weeks for the extraordinary termination of employment or service contracts; sec. 246 (1) Stock Corporation Act (AktG): one month for actions for avoidance of resolutions adopted in shareholder meetings).
The Limitation Ordinance (Cap. 347) sets out limitation periods depending on the cause of action. The limitation periods more relevant to commercial proceedings include:
- 6 years from the date of breach of a contract for contractual claims;
- 6 years from the date on which a claim in tort accrued (subject to limited exceptions for certain torts, including negligence actions where relevant facts are not known at the date of accrual and negligence actions involving personal injury);
- 12 years from the date of breach of a deed for a claim under a deed; and
- no limitation period for fraudulent breach of trust.
Limitation in Guernsey is known as prescription. Prescription operates to completely extinguish the right to a claim rather than simply barring access to the remedy. Prescription can be raised as a defence to any claim considered to fall outside the relevant period.
The prescription periods that are commonly relevant in commercial litigation in Guernsey are:
- contract or tort: 6 years from the date on which the breach/damage occurred;
- breach of trust: 3 years from the date of knowledge or delivery or final trust accounts; and
- realty: 20 years from the date on which the cause of action arises.
There is a customary law principle in Guernsey law called empêchment d’agir by which a party can plead that an impediment has prevented it from taking action previously. Empêchment d’agir operates to suspend time in circumstances when the prescription period would have otherwise expired. It is not used commonly in commercial proceedings and the limits of its application in modern cases is not always clear.
Broadly speaking, the limitation periods prescribed for disputes in India are governed by the Limitation Act, 1963 (Limitation Act). The Schedule to the Limitation Act prescribes the periods of limitation in various cases. As an example, Part I of the Schedule provides that the limitation in various cases of suits relating to accounts shall be three years. It also provides the time from which the limitation period shall begin to run. Similarly, Part II of the Schedule provides for limitation in cases of suits relating to contracts. The Schedule further provides that the limitation for suits and applications, for which no period of limitation is provided elsewhere shall be three years from the date when the right to sue/apply accrues.
However, for the purposes of initiating proceedings/filing appeals, respective statutes provide for their own limitation period. As an example, Section 34 of the Arbitration Act provides that an application for setting aside the arbitral award is required to be made within three months of receipt of the award, which is extendable for a further period of thirty days but not thereafter. Further, as per Order XXI of the Supreme Court Rules, the limitation period for filing a Special Leave Petition before the Supreme Court is sixty days from the date of the order of refusal in cases where the High Court refuses to grant a certificate of fitness to appeal and ninety days from the date of the judgment or order in any other case.
Isle of Man
The Limitation Act 1984 as amended (which can be accessed at www.legislation.gov.im) contains substantive provisions in respect of relevant limitation periods in commercial claims. Normally, a commercial claim based on contract or tort must be commenced within 6 years from the date upon which the cause of action arose. The equitable doctrine of laches (delay) will be applied in relation to claims where equitable relief is sought.
Commercial disputes are generally subject to an ordinary 10-year limitation period. However, for some issues (for example, in general, rights deriving from corporate relationship) there is a limitation period of five years.
Particular attention has to be paid to specific contracts, under which the rights are subject to particularly short limitation periods (for example, rights relating to transport contracts are debarred in one year or eighteen months if the carriage starts or finishes outside Europe).
Philippine laws provide for the following relevant prescriptive periods:
Four years from the time the right of action accrues – actions based on negligence or tort
Six years from the time the right of action accrues – actions upon an oral contract and upon a quasi-contract
Eight years from the time possession is lost – actions to recover a movable property, unless the possessor has acquired ownership by prescription for a less period
Ten years from the time the right of action accrues – actions upon a mortgage, upon a written contract, upon an obligation created by law, and upon a judgment
Thirty years from the time the right of action accrues – real actions over immovable property
The most relevant limitation periods are:
- 2 years for certain types of credit claims, such as lawyers’ fees;
- 5 years for other specific situations (e.g. statutory or agreed interest)
- 20 years is the ordinary limitation.
Limitation periods and the moment from which they start to run are stipulated by law.
In commercial relationships, the general limitation period is 4 years and it starts to run from the date when the claim could have been exercised in a court for the first time unless otherwise set out by the law.
The commercial law regulates the start of the limitation period differently, e.g.
- in the case of claims arising out of a breach of obligations, the limitation period starts to run on the date of the breach;
- in the case of damages claims, the limitation period starts to run on the date when the aggrieved party has learned or could have learned about damage and about who is liable for damage;
- in the case of rights arising out of total damage or a loss of shipment, the limitation period starts to run on the date when the shipment was to be delivered to the recipient, in other cases on the date of the shipment receipt.
The Slovak commercial law recognizes also a special limitation period – e.g. the right to compensation for damage passes if it has not been exercised for ten years of the date of the breach of obligations disregard of when the aggrieved party has learned about damage and about who is liable for damage. Rights arising out of damage to delivered objects and of belated shipment/mail delivery vis-à-vis the sender and carrier pass after one year of the limitation period start.
In civil law the limitation period is three years and starts to run from the moment when the right could have been exercised for the first time.
Time limitation is treated as a substantive law issue. The general rule is a 10-year limitation period from the date of the origin of the claim. The limitation period can according to the general rule be interrupted through, for example, a reminder, an acknowledgment or an initiation of legal proceedings whereby a new limitation period will start to run. There are however several exceptions from the general rule where claims are subject to shorter limitation periods and where it is often necessary to take legal action to interrupt limitation.
Limitation periods vary depending on the nature of the claim. The basic limitation rules, which are set out in the Limitation Act 1980, include the following:
- for simple contractual claims: six years from the date of the breach of contract;
- for many tortious claims: six years from the date the damage is suffered; and
- for claims brought in respect of deeds: twelve years from the breach of the obligation contained in the deed.
For cases involving fraud, the limitation period generally does not start running until the time when the claimants discover the fraud or when they could, with reasonable diligence, have discovered it. Limitation is a complex area and should always be reviewed carefully.
There are different limitation periods in Bahraini laws depending on the type of the claim and grounds thereof. However, as a general rule, all civil claims are subject to the general statute of limitation which is 15 years unless the law provides for another period, such as traders’ rights which are subject to a limitation period of 10 years.
The general statute of limitations is 20 years, therefore if no specific period is set for a particular matter this is the statute of limitations that applies. However, there are specific statutes of limitations for certain matters, such as, six months (for claims similar to tort claims in which the plaintiff seeks compensatory damages because of involuntary acts), one year (for complaints seeking compensatory damages for voluntary acts), two years (for purely contractual liability), three years (for collection claims based on credits that are payable within regular timeframes, such as leases), and five years (to pursue the annulment of purchase agreements).
Under Article 1967 of the Indonesian Civil Code, the right to submit any claim, both material and individual claims, will expire after 30 years. The law does not specify when this period will start, but in practice, it will start when the right to make the claim first arises.
The limitation periods of different causes of action are provided for in the Limitation Act 1953 (“LA”). The limitation period of each causes of action differ.
The limitation period of actions founded on contract or tort is six (6) years [See Section 6(1) of LA]; actions to recover land is twelve (12) years [See Section 9 of LA]; actions to enforce judgment is twelve (12) years [See Section 6(3) of LA]; actions on breach of trust is six (6) years [See Section 22(2) of LA].
However, there is no limitation period for actions founded on fraudulent breach of trust. [See Section 22(1) of LA)
Besides, limitation period will be postponed in certain situations such as in cases of fraud or mistake. In such circumstances, the limitation period shall not begin to run until the Plaintiff has discovered the fraud or the mistake, as the case may be, or could with reasonable diligence have discovered it. [See Section 29 of LA]
In Chile there is no general time limit for ordinary courts to exercise their jurisdiction, and consequently the procedures in place before these tribunals have no duration limits.
The foregoing is without prejudice to the existence of several different statutes of limitations depending on the nature of the claim or the cause of action. As a general rule, the legal actions can only be exercised within a specific period of time, because at the expiration of the said statutes of limitations. Once expired, these actions can be brought to trial but they will probably be dismissed promptly under certain defenses the defendant can raise.
The general statute of limitations for civil actions is 5 years (from the date the obligation was enforceable) and 4 years for the commercial actions.
The applicable limitation period would depend on the nature of the claim itself. As a general rule, claims of a contractual nature are barred by the lapse of five years which would normally start to run from the date when the contractual obligation was due. However, shorter limitation periods may be applicable for particular warranties and contracts.
From a Swiss law perspective, limitation periods qualify as a matter of substantive law. The limitation periods are mainly governed by the Swiss Code of Obligations of 30 March 1911 (CO). According to the general rule provided in the CO, all claims (including most contractual claims) become time-barred after ten years unless the law provides otherwise. A shorter limitation period of only five years applies to certain types of contractual claims, for example with regard to claims for periodic payments, claims in connection with work carried out by tradesmen and craftsmen, purchases of retail goods, medical treatment, professional services provided by advocates and work performed by employees for their employers.
Claims for breach of representations and warranties generally become time-barred within two (movable property) or five years (immovable property), unless the parties contractually agree on longer (not however shorter) limitation periods.
Tort claims currently become time-barred after one year from the date on which the injured party became aware of the loss/damage and of the identity of the liable party (relative prescription) or at the latest ten years after the date on which the loss/damage was caused (absolute prescription).
Claims for restitution for unjust enrichment become time-barred one year after the date on which the injured party learned of its claim (relative prescription) and in any event ten years after the date on which the claim first arose (absolute prescription).
In 2018, the Swiss Parliament decided to revise the limitation periods in the CO. Therefore, on 1 January 2020 new rules on the limitation periods will come into force. Among other amendments, the aforementioned limitation periods for tort and unjust enrichment claims will be extended from one to three years. In cases involving bodily injury or the death of a human being, the absolute limitation period will be extended to twenty years.
The general limitation period is twenty years from the establishment of the claim. Shorter limitation periods are also provided. Indicatively, with regard to certain aspects of commercial claims, (such as claims for interest, claims of merchants for the price of their delivered products, claims for the payment of the consideration provided in lease agreements) the Greek Civil Code (hereinafter the “GCC”) provides for a five-year time limitation pursuant to article 250 therein, starting at the end of the year during which the claim has been established (article 251 GCC). Furthermore, particular limitation period is provided for claims related to unfair competition, whereby the relevant shortest period is a period of 18 months starting from the point that the claimant had knowledge of the act and the responsible person.
The limitation periods are regulated in the Norwegian Limitation Period for Claims Act, which states the general rule of limitation period for all claims. The general limitation period is three years. For some particular types of claims, e.g. recourse claims, the period diverges. The starting point for the period is the date on which the creditor first has the right to demand performance, or – if the claim arises from breach of contract - three years from the date when the breach of contract occurred. The period for tort claims commence when the creditor had or ought to have had sufficient information that proceedings could have been initiated. The most practical way to actively respect the deadline, is to initiate formal legal proceedings.
The Act also has provisions regarding delayed start of the limitation periods. For instance, if the creditor has not asserted the claim due to lack of knowledge about the claim’s existence or its debtor, the limitation period is one year after the date on which the creditor obtained or should have obtained such knowledge. However, regardless of “grace periods” effecting delayed start of the limitation period, the general limitation period of three years cannot be extended by more than a total of 10 years. For tort claims the period can extend for up to 20 years.
In principle, the statute of limitations in civil matters is 30 years, and 10 years in commercial matters. There are specific matters for which shorter statutes of limitations are provided for by the Civil code (i.e.: 10 years for construction matters, 3 years for the payment of salary). The starting point of the statute of limitations is the day when the obligation becomes due (or when the harm occurred, in tort cases).
An important limitation period is known as the statute of limitations. Federal courts deciding federal law issues will apply the applicable Federal statute of limitations. Federal courts deciding state law claims will look to state law for the applicable statute of limitations. Federal courts generally follow some version of the “discovery rule” regardless of whether federal or state law supplies the relevant limitations period. Under this rule, the limitations period begins to run when the plaintiff discovers or should have discovered facts giving rise to a cause of action.
Limitation periods vary by type of claim and by state jurisdiction. For example, in New York, breach of contract claims have a six-year statute of limitations, but in California such claims have only a four-year statute of limitations. By contrast, trade secret misappropriation claims must be commenced in both New York and California within three years after the plaintiff discovers (or should have discovered) the misappropriation. The availability of a longer limitations period may encourage a party to bring suit in one jurisdiction rather than another.
Except in few cases, there are no limitation periods in commercial disputes. The main limitation periods in commercial matters are:
(a) Under the Commercial Code 1932, claims against guarantors and endorsers in relation to financial instruments (eg, bill of exchange, promissory note and cheque) are subject to a five-year limit (starting from the date of certificate of non-payment for returned cheques or notice of protest to payer for bills of exchange and promissory notes and the last taken judicial measure or from the date of last judicial measure taken by the plaintiff, whichever earlier). The effect of expiration of limitation periods is that the holder of financial instrument loses recourse to guarantors and endorsers and cannot, but can still file a civil claim against the issuer claiming for settlement of debt.
(b) Where stockholders of a company are liable under the law for transactions of the company, a five-year limitation period applies to third party claims against the stockholders (or their heirs). The limitation period starts, as the case may be, from the date of publishing the winding up notice of the company in the Official Gazette, or the date of publishing the notice of dismissal (if applicable) or exit of the relevant stockholder. Regardless of the foregoing, if the payment in dispute was due after such publication dates, the five-year period starts from due date.
(c) Damage claims against carriers of goods may only be raised within one year from the delivery date, or one year from the expected delivery date if the goods are lost or destroyed.
Unless otherwise provided by law, a claim becomes time-barred after 20 years (section 3:306 Dutch Civil Code (‘DCC’)). The DCC provides several different limitation periods:
- The right to claim specific performance of a contractual obligation to do or to give something becomes time-barred five years after the claim became due and exigible (section 3:307 DCC) (two years in consumer sale, section 7:23 DCC);
- The right to claim damages or a contractual penalty becomes time-barred five years from the day after the injured person became aware of the damage inflicted and the identity (and liability) of the person liable (section 3:310 DCC);
- The right to nullify an agreement in case of deception or error becomes time-barred three years after discovery thereof (section 3:52 DCC).
- The right to demand the annulment of a resolution of a constituent body of a legal entity becomes time-barred after one year following the publication or notification thereof (section 2:15 subsection 5 DCC).
The statutes of limitations on the most important civil and commercial actions that follow the ordinary procedure is ten years. For actions arising out of enforcement of titles or indebtedness, the statute of limitations is three years.
There are many limitation periods which are relevant to statutes of limitation by the type of dispute and these are mainly listed on Federal Law number 5 of 1985 known as the Civil Transactions Law.
For example, the general rule is that the statute of limitation is 15 years. However, there are many specific statutes of limitations which are specific. For example, in employment matters the statute of limitation is 1 year and 3 years from discovery of the defect or the collapse in Muqawala contracts.
General limitation period is three years. In some case, the law may envisage special limitation periods. There are also special terms for bringing particular types of claims. For examples, the limitation period for a claim for damages caused in consequence of a corruptive practice during the conclusion or execution of a contract is limited to 10 years from the moment the infringement took place. Claims connected to the ownership of real estate can be brought to court within ten years, and there are some other specific regulations as well.
There are no limitation periods for
- claims for the protection of personal non-property rights and other intangible assets, except for the cases provided for by law;
- claims filed with banks by depositors for repayment of deposits;
- Claims for compensation of the damage caused to citizen's life or health. However, claims filed three years after the time of arising of the right for compensation of such damage for the past period shall be satisfied for not more than three years preceding the bringing of the action;
- claims for the elimination of each violation of the right of the owner or another possessor even if those violations have not been related to dispossession (Article 277);
- claims of the owner for declaring invalid the act of a state or local self-government body or the officials thereof, which has violated the owner’s rights for property possession, use and disposal;
- other claims defined by law (e.g. labour law claims on requesting the payment of salaries, etc.).