Legal Briefing on Time Bars under French Law
Carriage of goods
Any action based on carriage of good contract issued against the carrier, the freight forwarder, the shipper or the consignee is time barred upon a 1 year time limit starting from the moment the cargo was delivered or should have been delivered:
Any action based on passenger transportation contract issued against the rail or road carrier is time barred upon French Civil Law general time limits i.e. 5 years with exception of any action based on personal injury whereby the time to bring the claim is 10 years.
French Civil Law statutory general time limits
(applicable to both contractual and tortious actions)
Any personal or property action - contractual or in tort - is time barred within 5 years from the day when the holder of the right knew or should have known the facts allowing him to exercise his right (Article 2224 of the French Civil Code) with exceptions:
N.b: time limit under French law can be either interrupted - whereby a new time limit starts to run from the date of the interruptive act - or suspended - whereby the lime limit is temporarily suspended without elapsed time being erased (articles 2230, 2231 and 2234 to 2239 of French Civil Code)
|French Civil Law contractual time limits|
Beside French Civil Law general time limit of 5 years, the parties of a contract are given the possibility by Article 2254 of French Civil Code to arrange and determine the time limit which shall apply to the actions under their contract.
The scope of this article - excluding any action relating to payment - is in particular limited to contracts which are not governed by compulsory rules.
|Latent damage / defects claims in sales contracts or “garantie des vices caches”|
Article 1641 of French Civil Code provides that should arise any damage making the sold thing either (i) unfit for the use for which it was intended or (ii) impairs that use at an extent that the buyer would not have acquired it or would have given a lesser price for it had he known of them, any action might be brought by the buyer within 2 years (…) from the moment the latent defect / damage was discovered by the buyer (article 1648 of French Civil Code).
|Penal / Criminal Law|
French criminal law provides a tripartite itemisation of infringements varying depending on offences’ seriousness/severity level and each category of offence is ruled by specific Timebars provisions.
Nb: each time limit starts from the day the offence was committed/omitted in case of negligence constituting a penal/criminal infringement
Nb: each time limit starts from the day any final court decision imposing a sentence or fine is issued