Greece - Time Bars

Date: 19/01/2017
Author: Sara Jones
Source: Shipserve (International) Inc
Greece - Time Bars
  • Timebars and prescription of a right to claim in maritime cases are regulated in the provisions of the Greek Civil Code (GCC) and the Code of Private Maritime Law (CPML) except where international conventions and agreements have been ratified and incorporated into Greek Law.
    The general prescription limitation provided by the GCC is 20 years unless otherwise provided. In very general terms the limitation for commercial transactions is five years. Tort claims are also subject to a five year limitation period with time to count from the day the victim became aware of the damage and the person liable to compensate him but in any case, not longer than 20 years from the time the action constituting the tort took place.  Under the GCC, contractual clauses providing for shorter limitation periods are deemed null and void.
    In the maritime sector there are generally two time limitations (prescriptions): One year for crew remuneration claims, claims for provisions, repairs equipment etc. to ships, claims out of contracts of affreightment and claims due to collision damage and general average. Two years, for claims out of marine insurance, salvage claims and claims against the shipbuilder for newbuilding defects. The period for both these prescriptions commences upon the expiration of the calendar year within which the events giving rise to the claim occurred. It should be noted that Greece has ratified most of the main international maritime conventions currently in force, such as the 1910 Collision Convention, the 1972 Collision Regulations, the York Antwerp Rules, the 1989 London International Convention on Salvage, the Civil Liability Convention 1969, the 1971 Fund Convention and The Hague-Visby Rules. Therefore, for claims under those international conventions, the respective time bars or limitations provided therein apply.
    From the procedural point of view, unless a Court rules otherwise, filing of appeals against first instance judgements in substantive proceedings suspends payment of any amount awarded (although statutory interest is applied) until such time that a full, final and unappealable decision is reached. This is not however the case in relation to fines imposed by the State under administrative legislation. The time available to appeal is provided in law and detailed in the respective decision however filing of an appeal does not, in itself, suspend or preclude its payment.
Claim/Incident TypeTime Bar
Stevedores, inspectors and other visitors on board (injury or death), tort claims
  • 5 years (with time to count from the date the victim became aware of the damage and the person liable to compensation).
Crew
  • One year for claims for remuneration, severance pay etc.
  • Twenty years for personal injury claims under law 551/1915, however if the personal injury may be attributed to tort of the employer then the 5 year time bar applies.
Claims by the State regards to Stowaways and refugees
  • 5 years (with time to count from the end of the fiscal year in which the claim became due) in cases of debts to the State (e.g. repatriation expenses).

Cargo Matters

  • Hague-Visby applies compulsorily (i.e. 1 year with time to count from the date of delivery or date delivery should have taken place) for all transports executed under a bill of lading or similar title document for sea carriage where ports of loading and discharging belong to different states as well as for sea transports between Greek ports irrespective of whether a bill of lading has been issued.
  • 1 year time bar where the CPML applies with time to count from the date of delivery or date delivery should have taken place.
Claims for cargo damage or loss against the Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) or its servants
  • 3 months with time to count from delivery or from the time the loss or damage became known to the party interested in the cargo as provided for by Law 1559/1950.
Loss or damage to property
  • 5 years with time to count from the date the victim became aware of the damage and the person liable to compensation as provided for by the GCC, but in any case, not longer than 20 years.
Loss or damage due to collision
  • 2 years with time to count from the date of the casualty presupposing the collision involves vessels flying the flag of signatory members of the Convention.
  • 1 year with time to count from the end of the year in which the collision occurred in cases where the CPML applies.
Damage to vessel by shore facilities/stevedores
  • 5 years with time to count from the end of the fiscal year in which the claim became due when damage is caused by State property/employees (including Piraeus Port Authority so long as no cargo claim involved).
  • 5 years with time to count from the date the victim became aware of the damage and the person liable to compensation when the damage is caused by an individual or his servants
Wreck removal and associated liabilities
  • 5 years (with time to count from the date of the incident).
Pollution Claims
  • 3 years (with time to count from the date the damage occurred) in cases where the CLC applies .
    but, in any case, not more than six years from the date of the incident which caused the damage. 
    If the claim is filed in tort (not under the CLC provisions), then  the 5 years (and in any case not more than 20 years) tort limitation will apply.
Fines imposed by the State for infringements of Customs Law and other violations
  • Timebars vary significantly and any appeal periods will be detailed in the relevant decision issued by the Authorities. Advice should always be sought when faced with this situation.

NOTE: The information given above is subject to change without notice due to the current economic and political situation in Greece which has resulted in numerous changes to national legislation and reform of the judicial system and processes. We therefore urge Members to contact the local Club correspondent in the event of any claim to ensure their interests are properly protected.

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