Japan - Time Bars

Date: 20/01/2017
Author: Yutaka Tsurusaki
Source: Tsurusaki & Kobayashi
Japan - Time Bars

We hereunder briefly explain the time bar system under Japanese law, the basic concepts and the specific time limits for the respective main or ordinary claims in practice and in the shipping field.

As you will note, since the time bar system is rather complicated under Japanese law, the readers are required to specifically consult with Japanese lawyers in each case for more precise advice.
Basic Concepts

There are two main time prescriptions ( “Jikou”) under Japanese law, namely 10 year time bar under the Civil Code of Japan, and 5 year time bar under the Commercial Code of Japan

As the matters be complicated, there are many other time bars stipulated in the Civil Code, the Commercial Code and other special laws.

The time prescriptions run to count from when the Claimant comes to be able to exercise the claim ( “when excisable” ) and the claim will be time barred with the lapse of the time limit unless there occurs no incident interrupting the completion of the time bar and if the claimer relies on the time bar right.

The typical incident which interrupts the running and completion of the time bar is commencement of suit, time extension agreement, partial payment , recognition of the claim, conducts deem to waive the time bar limit, and others.

Apart from such usual time prescriptions (“Jikou”), there is another category of the time limit (“ Joseki-Kikan”) like one year time bar under Japan COGSA which is based on the Hague-Visby Rules.

The “Jikou” type time limit can be extended for another 6 months from the receipt of the demand if the Claimant send to a demand to the claimer in proper manners within the time limit before completion of the time bar but no further and if the claim is not settled within such 6 months, the Claimant needs to commence a suit or obtain a time extension agreement and otherwise the claim will be time barred.

The “Joseki-Kikan” type time limit cannot be extended for any period by such a demand and unless the Claimant commences a suit or obtain a time extension agreement within the claim will be time barred.

Specific Time Limits for Respective Claims

We hereunder address for the specific time limits for main or ordinary claims in practice and in the shipping field.

We have hereunder listed up many of the time limits under Japanese law for your references and please pick up such as the Club may think necessary for the Members' information.

Again we point out that since the time bar system is rather complicated under Japanese law, the readers are required to specifically consult with Japanese lawyers in each case for more precise advice.

Notes

  1. “ when exercisable” in below means usually the due date or when the cause of actions or the non-performance has arisen.
  2. There are various shorter time limits other than those listed up in below.
  3. The law reforms of the Civil Code and the Commercial Code are now under the way and the revisions and unification of the various time limits, particularly those under the current Civil Code have been discussed and it seems likely that new time limits will be provided in the Civil Code and others in the near future.

Civil Claims (General)

Type of ClaimTime Limit PeriodLaws
Ordinary Claims (in Principle) such as sales price, loan, damages in contract, and damages in cancellation of contract10 years from when exercisableCivil Code
Other Property Rights Other than Claims and Ownership (in Principal) 20 years from when exercisableCivil Code
Claims in Tort3 years from when the claimant has known of damages and the tortfeasor or 20 years from the time when the tortious act has been made.Civil Code
Claim based on Management of Affairs (Business) Without Mandate10 years from the date of expenditure date:Civil Code
Claims based on Unjust Enrichment10 years from the date of unjust enrichmentCivil Code
Claims based on Product Liability  3 years from the time when the claimant has known of damages and the offender or 10 years from when the manufacturer has delivered the product.Product Liability Act
Claims concluded by judgments10 years from when the judgment has become final and concludedCivil Code

Civil Claims (Short Time Limit)

Type of ClaimsTime Limit PeriodLaws
Nullification based on fraud, compulsive act and others5 years from when ratification can be made or 20 years from the contractCivil Code
Seller’s liability for defects One year from when the buyer has known of the defect Civil Code
Contractor’s /Constructors liability for defectsOne year from when the delivery of the object has been made or when the work has completed Civil Code
Claims of persons engaged on design, construction and supervision of works3 years from when the work completedCivil Code
Claims for prices of products and commodities sold by producers, and wholesale and retail seller2 years from when exercisableCivil Code
Claims for freight1 years from when exercisableCivil Code
Wages and worker’s compensation2 years from the payment dateLabour Standard Act
Retirement Allowance5 years from the payment dateLabour Standard Act

Claims for Commercial Matters

Type of ClaimsTime Limit PeriodLaws
Claims arising from commercial transactions5 years from when exercisableCommercial Code
Claims for damages based on non- performance of commercial obligations 5 years from when exercisable (in principle from when the no-performance has been made)Commercial Code
Cancellation of commercial transactions5 years from when the non-performance has been madCommercial Code
Claims based on bill of exchanges in principle3 years from the due date (Remark: several exceptions of short time limits)Bill of Exchange Act
Claims based on cheques 6 months after the expiry of the payment period of the chequeCheque Act

Claims of company for damages against directors and others

Claims of directors and others of company against third parties

10 years from when the cause of the claim occursCivil Code
Claims for insurance proceeds3 years from when exercisableInsurance Act
Claims for insurance premium1 year from when exercisableInsurance Act

Maritime Related Claims

Remark: Claims other than listed in below are in principle 10 years or 5 years for claims in contract and 3 years for claims in tort as per the Civil Code or the Commercial Code as mentioned in above.

Type of ClaimsTime Limit PeriodLaws
Carrier’s liability for goods (Both ocean going and cabotage)One year from the date of delivery of goods  ( in case of total loss, from the date when the delivery should have been made)Japan COGSA (Ocean Going)
Commercial Code (Cabotage)
Claims of owners against charterers, shippers and consignees such as freight and demurrage

One year from the time when excisable

As for claims of the owners for hire against the time charterers under TC, it seems 5 years from when excusable

Commercial Code
Claim based on general averageOne year from the time of completion of G.A. adjustment Commercial Code
Claims by collision

Claims for physical damages: One year from the time of the collision in principal
Claims for death and injury: 3 years from the collision in principal (more precisely from the time when the aggrieved party knows of damages and the tortfeasor or 20 years from the time of the collision.)

When all of the flag countries of the collided vessels are signatory for the Collision Convention 1910 (Japan is signatory for it)
Both claims for physical damages and death and injuries: two years from the collision in principal (more precisely from the time when the aggrieved party knows of damages and the tortfeasor or 20 years from the time of the collision.) 


Commercial Code
SalvageOne year from the salvage has been conductedCommercial Code
Maritime Lien over ships One year from when the maritime lien has occurredCommercial Code
Carrier’s liability for goods (Ocean going)One year from the date of delivery of goods  ( in case of total loss, from the date when the delivery should have been made)Japan COGSA
Third party’s liability for goods if Carrier  further consigns  the carriage to third party3 months from the date when the Carrier has compensated for damages or a legal suit has been brought to the Carrier within the said one year time limit.Japan COGSA

Tsurusaki & Kobayashi
(T&K Partners)
Yutaka Tsurusaki
Attorney-at-Law
Satoshi Kubota
Attorney-at-Law

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