Up till now Spanish plaintiffs benefitted from a more than generous fifteen year general statute of limitations for most actions in personam. In a major reform of the Spanish Civil Procedure Act and the Civil Code which entered into force last Wednesday, October 7, this has now been reduced to five years.
This affects many of the most common contract based actions such as breach, non-payment, supply of defective goods, rent review and all claims relating to a contract of sale. The new legislation seeks to strike a better balance between the creditor’s interest in preserving his claim and the need to ensure that there is a reasonable time-limit. Fifteen years was held by most operators to be excessive. The system has now been brought into line with that of other European countries which have a five year limit.
With a previous time limit of fifteen years, transitional provisions are obviously of great importance. As one might expect, the new limit will only apply to obligations arising after the entry into force of the reform. Those arising prior to 7 October 2000 are already statute-barred due to the expiry of the old fifteen year limit. Those arising between that date and 7 October 2005 remain subject to the old limit. Those arising after that date and before 7 October 2015 will be statute-barred on 7 October 2020, i.e. they will be given the benefit of five years from the date of entry. Thus an obligation arising on 7 October 2010 will now be barred in 2020 and not in 2025, a full five years earlier.
In view of the above, clients are advised to urgently review any outstanding claims arising after 7 October 2000. We remain at your disposal should you require any further information with respect to the above.