Latvia - Time Bars

Date: 25/01/2017
Source: Pandi Balt Ltd

Time bars under Latvian law
Latvian Civil law (general law for civil relationships)

General time bar (Sec. 1885)10 years for all obligations rights, if laws don’t contemplate a shorter term, counting from the day when the time of fulfilment of the obligation became due.

Maritime code (special law for maritime matters)

Nature of ClaimTime Bar
Liens on cargo (Sec. 40)1 year from the time it arose.
Lien on cargo ceases to exist if the cargo is delivered, if it is sold by forced sale or if it is sold on the account of the owner of the cargo.
Claims secured by a maritime lien (Sec.325)

For the maritime liens, if it is not otherwise prescribed, the time bar is one year if before the expiry of this time period the ship has not been arrested and sold by way of forced sale procedure.

The time bar for the maritime liens shall commence:

  • for the claims related to employment on the ship of the master, officers and other crewmembers, including cost of repatriation and social insurance contributions payable on their behalf – from the termination of the employment legal relations of the plaintiff on the specific ship;
  • for the following claims:
  1. in relation to loss of human life or harm caused to his or her health (including claims regarding recovery of means of support) on water or on land in connection with the operation of the ship;
  2. related to reward for the salvage of a ship;
  3. related to payments for the use of ports, canals and other waterways and pilot services;
  4. arising out of loss of or damage to property or destruction thereof caused by the operation of the ship other than loss of or damage to cargo, containers and passenger belongings carried on the ship; – from the time the basis of the claim arose.

The time bar may not be interrupted or suspended. The time period shall not include the time when the ship has been under unreasonable arrest.

Claims arising out of collisions of ships (Sec.327)2 years from the date of collision.
Claims arising out of pollution (Sec.328)3 years from the time when the damage or loss arose, or the payments were made. An action cannot be brought if from the moment of the accident six years have passed. If the damage, loss or payments arise in a series of several accidents which have one cause, the six year period shall be counted from the time when the first accident occurred.
Claims arising out of carriage of goods by sea (Sec.329)1 year for claims arising in a case of loss or damage of cargo or in connection therewith, or in relation to incorrect or incomplete statements in a bill of lading, counting from the day when the cargo should have been delivered or it was delivered (if the cargo is subsequently delivered).
1 year for claims which has arisen due to failing to present a bill of lading during delivery of the cargo or delivering the cargo to another person, counting from the day when the cargo should have been delivered or it was delivered (if the cargo is subsequently delivered).
For regress claims – 1 year, counting from the day when the claim was settled.
Claims arising out of carriage of passengers by sea (Sec.330)

Time bar is 2 years. The commencement of the prescriptive period is calculated as follows:

  1. if harm to a health is caused - from the moment the passenger disembarked ashore;
  2. if the passenger loses his or her life during the carriage – from the day when the passenger should have disembarked ashore;
  3. if harm to a health is caused during carriage and after disembarkation ashore the passenger dies as a result of such harm to health – from the moment the passenger dies;
  4. if luggage has been lost or damaged – from the day when the passenger disembarks or should have disembarked ashore, taking into account the last incident.


An action may not be brought after a period of three years has expired from the time the passenger has disembarked or should have disembarked ashore, taking into account the last incident.
The prescriptive period may be extended if the carrier provides an appropriate notice both parties agree on extension. Such notice or agreement shall be made in writing.

Claims arising out of General average (Sec.331)
1 year for a claim regarding payment of general average, as well as compensation for damage and loss obtained in general average, counting from the day when the ship reached port after the general average.
1 year for a claim regarding payment of general average compensation, counting from the time of calculation of expenditures of the general average.
Salvage claims (Sec. 332)2 years for a claim regarding salvage reward or special compensation, counting from the day when the salvage measures (operations) are completed.
1 year for a claim regarding apportionment of a salvage reward or special compensation, counting from the day when the notice regarding the amount of the compensation and the plan for apportioning it was sent.
Wreck removal claims (Sec. 333)3 years, counting from the day when assessment of the hazardousness of the wreck is completed, but not more than six years, counting from the day when the ship became a wreck.
Other maritime claims (Sec.334)

1 year, counting from the day when the basis for the claim arose.
The list of maritime claims corresponds to the Ship Arrest Convention 1999.

Commercial Law (special law for commercial dials)

Nature of ClaimTime Bar
Claims arising out of commercial deals (Sec. 406)Within 3 years from the breach of the contract, if no special time bar contemplated by the law.
Claims against forwarders (Sec.445)Claims against a forwarder regarding damages, perishing, shortfall, destruction or loss of goods transferred for forwarding, as well as for delivery of the goods shall expire within one year. If the forwarder has acted in bad faith or allowed gross negligence, the referred to claims shall expire within three years. All other claims against the forwarder shall expire within three years.
If the goods transferred for forwarding has not been preserved due to damages, perishing or shortfall, the limitation period shall begin from the day on which the goods were delivered to the consignee, but due to destruction, loss of the goods or delay of delivery of the goods – on the day when the goods should have been delivered to the consignee.
Claims against a bailee (Sec.456)
  1. Claims against a bailee regarding damages, perishing, shortfall, delay of return or destruction of a property transferred for storage shall expire within one year. If the bailee has acted in bad faith or admitted gross negligence, the referred to claims shall expire within three years.
  2. If the property transferred for storage has not been preserved due to damages, perishing or shortfall, the limitation period shall begin on the day when the property transferred for storage is returned, but due to the delay of return of the property – on the day when the property should have been returned. In case of complete destruction of the property the limitation period shall begin on the day when the bailee notifies the bailor or the last legitimised holder of the warehouse receipt known by him or her regarding the referred to destruction if a warehouse receipt has been issued.

Rules of “special laws” have a priority over the rules of “general laws”. The International and EU regulations, compulsory for Latvia, have a priority over the rules of internal legislative acts (excluding Staversme (Constitution). Thus, for marine matters, the following sources of law should be checked, and in the following sequence: International conventions (ratified by Latvia) - Maritime code – Commercial law – Civil law. If the rules of the lower priority level legislative act contradict to rules of a higher level legislative act, the rules of the higher level legislative act apply.
It should also be noted that time bar can be suspended and/or interrupted.
The suspension is contemplated in very specific situations, which doesn’t concern marine/commercial relationships.
The limitation period interrupts in the following situations:

  1. when the creditor brings an action to the court/arbitration court;
  2. when the creditor sends a reminder to the debtor;
  3. when the debtor by his actions shows that he acknowledges the obligation (for example, fulfils the obligation in part or promises to fulfil it).


When the limitation period is interrupted, the same new limitation period begins to flow. The law can provide specific rules regarding suspension and interruption of the limitation period (for example, restriction provided by Section 325 (Maritime liens) of the Maritime code). 

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