What is the limitation period for bringing a claim?
Limitation on filing of suits in India is governed by the Limitation Act, 1963. The period of limitation for a tort claim is three years from the date on which the right to sue occurs. However, the CPA provides for a limitation period of two years from the date of the cause of action. Having said that, the CPA gives the consumer court the discretion to entertain complaints filed beyond the limitation period if it is satisfied with the reasons for the delay.
The limitation period under the PLA is three (3) years from the time when the claimant becomes aware of the damages AND the identity of party liable for the damages (Article 5 (1) of the PLA). The starting-point of the limitation period will often be the issue and might be narrowly interpreted, especially in litigation that implicates a complex product between individual consumer and the manufacturer, etc.
The same applies to cases where ten (10) years have elapsed from the time when the manufacturer, etc. delivered the product, but the period is calculated from the time of the occurrence of the damages where such damages are caused by substances which become harmful to human health when they accumulate in the body, or where the symptoms which represent such damages appear after a certain latent period (Article 5(2) of the PLA).
Please note that under the amended PLA (which will be in force from April 1, 2020), the three (3)-year limitation period for bringing a claim for death or physical injury will be extended to five (5) years.
While the administrative fines provided for in the Law on the Preparation and Application of Technical Literature for Products (4703) may be imposed by authorized institutions, a person who has suffered a material or non-material damage, or bodily injury may claim these amounts:
- within two years of the date of becoming aware of the damage in accordance with the Code of Obligations (6098) and indemnification obligation; and
- in any case, within 10 years of the start of the action causing damages.
Where the damage has arisen from an action for which criminal law proposes a longer statute of limitations, the longer statute of limitations shall apply.
Within the framework of the Law on Consumers’ Protection (6502), unless a longer period is specified in the law or the contract between the parties, liability from a defective product is subject to a two-year statute of limitations, starting from the date of delivery of the goods to the consumer, even if the defect emerges subsequently. Where the defect has been hidden through gross negligence or fraud, the statute of limitations does not apply. Where the defect constitutes a crime under the Criminal Code, the statute of limitations is:
- 30 years for crimes requiring life imprisonment without parole;
- 25 years for crimes requiring life imprisonment;
- 20 years for crimes requiring at least 20 years’ imprisonment;
- 15 years for crimes requiring five to 20 years’ imprisonment; and
- eight years for crimes requiring no more than five years’ imprisonment or a judicial fine.
A person cannot bring a claim in the case of any of the following.
(1) Limitation period
The right of claim for damages under the Product Liability Act is extinguished if the injured person does not claim his/her rights within three years from the date on which the injured person becomes aware of (i) the damage and (ii) the identity of the person responsible for the product liability.
(2) Exclusion period
Claims under the Product Liability Act must be brought within 10 years from the date the manufacturer supplied the defective product. However, with respect to damage to health caused by substance accumulation in the body over time, or any other damage where symptoms appear after the lapse of a certain latent period, the above 10-year period will commence on the date on which the damage actually occurs.
Defective goods actions brought under Part 3-5 of the ACL must generally be commenced within three years after the time the person becomes aware, or ought reasonably to have become aware, of particular circumstances giving rise to the action. There is also a 10-year period of repose, which requires actions to be commenced within 10 years of the supply by the manufacturer of the goods.
An action for non-compliance with a consumer guarantee (Part 5-4 of the ACL) must be commenced within three years after the time the person becomes aware, or ought reasonably to have become aware, that the guarantee had not been complied with.
For personal injury claims that relate to Parts 2-2, 3-3, 3-4, 3-5 or Division 2 of Part 5-4 of the ACL, the applicable limitation period is the later of the “date of discoverability” or the “long-stop period” as defined above (section 87F of the CCA and Part VIB of the CCA more generally).
The limitation period for bringing a strict liability claim is three years from the date on which the claimant became aware, or reasonably ought to become aware, of the defect, the identity of the producer and the existence of the damage(s).
However, a second limitation period is provided for: the producer can only be held liable up to ten years after the product was put on the market, except in case of fault.
If the claim involves risks to health and/or security of the consumers, it should be brought within 5 (five) years, counted from the acknowledgement of the damage and the acknowledgment of the identity of the offender.
If, however, the claim does not involve risks to health/security of the consumers, the Brazilian law establishes different rules.
Regarding non-durable products, in case of easily identifiable flaws, the lawsuit should be brought in 30 days from the delivery of the product. If it involves hidden flaws, the 30-day period should be counted from the identification of the flaw.
Regarding durable-products, the same rules concerning easy identifiable/hidden flaws are applied. The only particular difference is that instead of a 30-day period, the consumer will be entitled to bring the lawsuit in a 90-day period.
The General Provisions of the Civil Law, which came into effect in 2017, changed the statutory limitation of all civil claims from two years to three years, starting from the day on which the plaintiff becomes or should become aware that damage has been incurred. However, the Product Quality Law, which came into effect before the General Provisions of Civil Law, still provides that the statutory limitation for product liability claims is two years. This brings the question of which statutory limitation period should apply to product liability claims that took place after 2017. The law itself is not clear on which should prevail. In practice, most PRC courts take the view that the three-years statutory limitation should be applied.
Under PRC laws, the statutory limitation of civil claims is extended for an additional three years every time the obligee requests the obligor to perform its obligation or assume responsibility. The same applies to product liability claims. The law further provides that the maximum length of the limitation period for product liability claims is ten years, starting from the date when the defective product was delivered to the infringed party, unless the producer promises a longer safe period of use.
Claims must be brought within three years of the date on which the claimant became aware (or should reasonably have become aware) of the damage, the defect and the identity of the producer.
There is a longstop deadline of ten years from the date the product was put into circulation. This means any action brought after 10 years from the 'relevant time' will be extinguished. This long stop date cannot be extended by the court or by consent of the parties.
The limitation period is three years from the day on which the party that is entitled to damages became aware, or should reasonably have become aware, of the damage, the defect and the identity of the party liable to pay the damages. Irrespective of that all claims expire ten years after the product had been put on the market.
The Products Liability Act contains special rules on the time-barring of claims for damages under both the Products Liability Act and the product liability rules developed in case law. These rules supplement and limit the general rules on time-barring laid down in the Limitation Act.
The general period of limitation is three years from the time when the party raising the claim became aware of the claim, and as a default rule and depending on the nature of the claim 10 or 30 years after the time of the cause of damage. However, an absolute limitation period for product liability of 10 years after the date when the product was brought into circulation applies.
The consumer may address the claims prescribed by the LCRP related to defects of the product to manufacturers, sellers, authorised entities or importers by default if such defects were discovered within the warranty period or shelf life of the product. If such periods were not established, the consumer may address the said claims if the product defects were discovered within the two years basically starting from the date of transfer of the product to the consumer.
Within product liability, cases regarding claims related to death, injury or damage to property of the consumer shall only be compensated if such damage was caused within:
(i) an established lifetime or shelf life of the product; or
(ii) within 10 years of the manufacture date of the product, if the lifetime or shelf life is not established.
However, rule (ii) only applies when the manufacturer or seller was not required to specify a lifetime or shelf life for the respective product. Whereas such specification was required and a consumer is entitled to claim the respective compensation regardless of the time when the damage was caused in the following cases:
- the manufacturer or seller simply fail to specify the lifetime or shelf life; or
- the consumer was not warned of the necessary actions upon the expiration of the lifetime or shelf life or was not supplied with full required information upon the product.
The limitation period for claims brought under the Product Liability Act is ten years after a product was brought into circulation. Also most claims for damages under Austrian law have to be filed within three years of a person’s knowledge of the damage. The relevant limitation period ends as soon as one of those two limitation periods ends.
If a claim is brought under the General Civil Code, claims also have to be filed within three years of a person’s knowledge of the damage. The maximum limitation period however is 30 years in most cases (and even 40 in some). Please note, that any claim brought under the General Civil Codes necessitates culpability on the producer’s side.