What, if any, are the relevant limitation periods?
The Limitation Act, 1908 stipulates the default limitation period concerning a number of different circumstances where the enabling law is silent. Where, however, the Civil Procedure Code, 1908, or some other special law covering a particular claim, provides a different limitation period, then the period in given in that enactment will apply.
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.
Actions in contract or tort may not be brought after the expiration of 6 years from the date on which the cause of action accrues. Part III of the Limitation Act does provide extensions of limitation periods in certain circumstances.
In respect of actions concerning trust property, Section 22(1) provides that no period of limitation shall apply to an action by a beneficiary under a trust, where: (a) the action relates to any fraud or fraudulent breach of trust to which the trustee was a party or privy; or (b) the action is brought to recover from the trustee trust property or the proceeds thereof in the possession of the trustee, or previously received by the trustee and converted to his use.
Section 22(2) further provides that, subject to section 22(1), an action by a beneficiary to recover trust property or in respect of any breach of trust, not being an action for which a period of limitation is prescribed by any other provision of the Limitation Act, may not be commenced after the expiration of 6 years from the date on which the cause of action accrues.
Actions for the enforcement of any judgment and actions to recover land have a limitation period of 12 years.
Section 32 of the Limitation Act also expressly states that nothing in the same Act affects any equitable jurisdiction to refuse relief on the ground of acquiescence, laches or otherwise.
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.
The statute of limitations under Spanish law establishes a wide range of periods, to be found not only in the Spanish Civil Code but also in a number of other laws (eg, the Spanish Patents Law).
Note that there is a general 5-year limitation for contractual and 1-year limitation for non-contractual liability.
It should also be highlighted that some of Spain’s northernmost autonomous regions have historical civil regulations of their own (ie Aragón, the Balearic Islands, the Basque Country, Catalonia, Galicia, and Navarra), so limitation periods may vary in those regions.
Under Article 1967 of the Indonesian Civil Code, the right to submit all claims, both material claims or individual claims expires after 30 (thirty) years. The law does not specify the beginning of this period, but in practice it starts when the right to make the claim first arises.
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 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.
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 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 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.
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).
The time within which a party must issue proceedings is governed by the Statute of Limitations Act, 1957 (as amended). Where the claim is founded in tort, or is for breach of contract, a party has 6 years within which to bring their claim. The general rule is that time starts to run in contract claims when the breach of contract occurs, and in tort claims when the damage is suffered (subject to certain exceptions, for example, where the date of knowledge is later).
Under Swiss law, limitation periods are a matter of the substantive law and are mainly set forth in the Swiss Code of Obligations. A contractual claim becomes time-barred usually after 10 years – 5 years if it is a periodic performance such as salaries or rents. There are however several notable exceptions to these general rules, depending on the nature of the claim.
Non-contractual claims for damages are time-barred 1 year after the injured party has learned of the damage, but no later than 10 years after the damage occurred.
It is important to note that the courts do not take such limitations into account ex officio, but only if a party raises the respective objection to the merits of the claim.
Several limitation periods apply in Chilean law depending on the class of action to be undertaken. For instance, the general limitation period that applies to civil claims is 5 years counted from the date the obligation is enforceable.
In turn, for commercial claims, the statute of limitation is 4 years as per the Chilean Commercial Code (“Código de Comercio”). The same statute of limitation set out for torts under the Chilean Civil Code (“Código Civil”), but it is counted from the date when the offence occurred.
In addition, the statute of limitation for requesting an enforcement proceeding is 1 or 3 years depending on the nature of the title.
Finally, there are special short-term statutes of limitation for certain matters, such as collecting taxes, certain fees and professional fees, among others.
Limitation is a part of Swedish substantive law. The general limitation period is ten years from the occurrence of a claim unless otherwise agreed upon by the parties or specifically regulated elsewhere, according to the Swedish Limitations Act (Sw. preskriptionslagen). For claims on consumers, the general limitation period is three years. Some areas of law are subject to specific limitation periods, in particular insurance law. The limitation period can be interrupted if the debtor offers payment, pays interest or instalment(s) or otherwise acknowledges the claim. The creditor may also interrupt the limitation period by presenting a written demand to the debtor or commencing legal proceedings. If the limitation period is interrupted a new limitation period begins from that day. As concerns interruptions due to legal proceedings specifically, the new limitation period begins when the legal proceedings are concluded.
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.
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.
Time bars are recognised under Saudi Arabian statute law, but only as procedural devices, and not as substantive time bars. Moreover, these time bars are specific rather than general. Examples include the following:
- Banking disputes cannot be instituted after five years “from the date of entitlement to the amount the subject matter of the claim or from the date of knowledge of the event the subject matter of the dispute”, unless the claimant has an excuse, which may be accepted in the discretion of the Banking Disputes Committee.
- Actions on insurance claims may not be heard after the expiration of five years “from the date of entitlement to the amounts the subject matter of the claim”, unless there is an excuse acceptable to the Committees.
- Claims arising in connection with contracts for the carriage of goods by sea become time barred after 365 days from arrival of the goods or deemed arrival if they are lost.
- Land transport claims are time barred after three months if the loss or damage occurred in Saudi Arabia, or after one year if the loss or damage occurred outside of Saudi Arabia.
- Actions on bills of exchange or promissory notes against the issuer must be commenced within three (Hejra) years of the date of maturity.
According to the Limitation Act, claims become time barred three years after the date the claimant first could have claimed payment. If the claimant has not claimed payment because he or she did not have necessary knowledge of the claim or the debtor, the claim does not become time barred until one year after the claimant got or should have gotten such knowledge.
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.
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 relevant limitation periods for different kinds of claim are set out in the Limitation Act 1980 and include a six year limitation period for claims in relation to a contract, tort, negligence or breach of trust, one year in relation to defamation and malicious falsehood and twelve years in relation to recovery of land. Time limits may be extended in certain cases, such as for latent defects or where there has been fraud or deliberate concealment. Limitation is a complex area and should always be reviewed carefully.
According to the Danish Limitation Act there are primarily two limitation periods, including two different time limits to statute-barre a claim.
The main rule is that a claim is statute-barred after 3 years. The limitation period is calculated from the earliest time that the creditor could demand for the claim to be fulfillled. The 3 year limit can be put on hold if the creditor did not have knowledge of the claim or the debtor ( may be relevant in tort cases ).
The Limitation Act also contains a provision that states that in any case a claim is statute-barred 10 years after the time that the creditor could demand to have the claim fulfilled even if the creditor was not aware of the claim or knew the identity of the debtor.
The limitation period can be suspended in various ways. One way is if the debtor acknowledges the debt to the creditor. A more common way to suspend the limitation period is to bring a legal action against the debtor. If the limitation period is suspended a new limitation period then commences.
Article 2224 of the French Civil Code states that personal actions or movable rights of action are time-barred after 5 years from the day on which the holder of a right knew or ought to have known the facts enabling him to exercise his right.
Parties can, however, partially derogate from the legal time limitation period by way of a standstill agreement, whereby the parties can agree to suspend or extend the limitation period.
Other circumstances may also suspend(1) the limitation period, such as:
- conciliation and mediation proceedings, as well as participatory proceedings;
- the impossibility to bring a legal action as a result of an impediment resulting from the law, an agreement or force majeure; and
- when a court grants a request for an investigative measure submitted prior to any trial.
Limitation periods are interrupted(2) by the commencement of proceedings (whether on the merits or to seek interim measures) up to the end of the proceedings.
The postponement, suspension or interruption of the limitation period may not extend the limitation period beyond 20 years from the date on which the right arises.
(1) Time accrued before the suspension of the limitation period is not reset when the cause of suspension ends.
(2) Which means that a new 5-year limitation period will start running when the cause of interruption ceases to exists, irrespective of the time accrued before the interruption.
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.