In Argentina all the matters concerning the navigation and trade by water are governed, mainly, by Argentinian Maritime Law (Nº 20,094). Where an issue it is not expressly contemplated therein – and it cannot be solved by analogy – the general law applies. This context entails some degree of ambiguity which affects, also, some of the time bars.
The claimant can extend, unilaterally, the time bar within some particular circumstances expressly provided by the Law. The most relevant ones are: (a) submitting a concrete and formal claim through a collated letter, which extends the time bar only once for 6 months; and (b) initiating Mediation proceedings which are a sort of pre-judicial action, informal and confidential, which suspends the time bar during its course and up to 20 days after its conclusion.
The following information summarizes the main time bars and it is a general description only:
CARRIAGE OF GOODS
Argentina is a party to the Hague Rules. In addition, our Maritime Law incorporated most of the principles of the Hague-Visby rules. Thereafter, the time bar for cargo claims under Bills of Lading is 1 year as from the date of discharge or when the goods should have been discharged. Other cargo claims arising under time or voyage charterparties or other Contracts of Affraightment will also have a time bar of 1 year when they are subject to Argentinean Law. Under C/P or other CoA, the course of the time will count as from the date in which the contract is terminated or the voyage concluded depending on the circumstances.
In addition, the carrier can redress against the shipper or third parties – even beyond the 1 year time bar of the main claim – always provided that these have been notified within 6 months of the date: (a) of the out-of-court settlement by the carrier; or (b) when lawsuit is served on to the carrier. The action to redress will become time barred 1 year after such notification.
Argentina is a party to the Athens Convention and its 1976 Protocol which establishes a time bar of 2 years. When the Athens Convention is not applicable (e.g. when the carrier or the passenger are Argentinean), the domestic Maritime Law provides for a time bar of 1 year. In both cases, the time is counted as from the date of disembarkation (or when this should have happened); and, when the death of the passenger takes place after such moment, the time bar will start counting from the date of the death but not further than 3 years from disembarkation.
Under employment contracts the time bas is 2 years as from the date of the incident; in tort it is 3 years.
Our Maritime Law distinguishes between deep sea, coastal and river towage on the one hand; and harbor towage on the other. Nevertheless, claims under these contracts have a time bar of 1 year as from the date on which the services are or should have been completed.
COLLISION WITH OTHER SHIPS
Collisions subject to Argentinean Law have a time bar of 2 years. If there is apportionment of liability, the party who paid more than its own proportion of liability is entitled to redress against the others, – up to the proportion of their liability – within 1 year as from the date in which the claim is paid in the first place.
COLLISION TO FFO
Collisions against fixed and floating objects (e.g. buoys and berths) are not expressly included in our Maritime Law. This brings ambiguity as to the applicable time bars. In principle, the cases should become time barred within 2 years provided for the collisions between ships. However, to be on the safe side, it should be considered a period of 3 years applying the principles of our general law.
According with our Maritime Law the applicable time bar is 2 years since its conclusion.
Subject to our Maritime Law, when there is no General Average Bond the time bar is 1 year as from the date of discharge in the port where the voyage concluded; otherwise, when there is a General Average Bond the time bar is 4 years counting as from the date on which it is issued. The period could be extended by a Judge.
As a general rule, fines related to National Health Authority (SENASA) Migrations and Coastguards have a time bar of 3 years as from the date of the incident or official enquiry. Instead, Customs fines have a period of 5 years counting as from the 1st of January following to the incident. In special circumstances, the time bar periods could be renewed.
In general, the liability to third parties arising from pollution has a time bar of 3 years as from the date of the incident under both general law and the “CLC 1992” when applicable –Argentina is a party to it.
|Type of Claim||Applicable Time Bar|
1 year as from the date of discharge; redress against shipper / third parties 1 year as from the date of notification to these parties, always provided that such notification takes place within 6 months of the date of out-of-court settlement or lawsuit is served.
|Passenger Claims||2 years under Athens Convention; or 1 year under domestic law. In case of death after disembarkation, up to three years of disembarkation date.|
|Personal Injury/Death||2 years under employment contracts; or 3 years in tort.|
|Towage Contracts||1 year as from the date on which the services concluded or should have concluded.|
|Collisions between ships||2 years; redress for apportionment of liability within 1 year of the date of payment.|
2 or 3 years as from the incident with some degree of uncertainty
2 years since its conclusion
1 year as from discharge when no General Average Bond is issue; or 4 years when a General Average Bond is issued
|3 years since the incident or official enquiry for National Health Authority, Migrations and Coastguards; 5 years counting from the next 1st January. Periods could be renewed in some circumstances.|
3 years as from the date of the incident (liability to third parties)
Our thanks to Pandi Liquidadores S.R.L for putting together this report. Viamonte 494 - 8th Floor (C1053ABJ) Buenos Aires, Argentina Telephone: (54+11) 4313-3500 E-mail: email@example.com www.pandi.com.ar
Sebastián Trigub is a qualified lawyer in Argentina holding an LLM in International Maritime Law with distinction in the UK. Pandi Liquidadores SRL is a family business founded in 1970 by Mr Constantino Trigub as pure P&I Commercial Correspondent, covering all ports in Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia. Sebastián is the third generation of the family in the company. Further details can be found at www.pandi.com.ar