Germany - Time Bars

Date: 19/01/2017
Author: Matthias Bimschas
Source: Class W Brons (GmbH & Co) KG
Germany - Time Bars

The German Civil Code provides a general 3 years time bar period which applies to contractual as well as to statutory claims. If a damage or a personal injury is latent long-stop dates of up to 30 years apply.
For certain kinds of claims German law stipulates special time bar periods which prevail over the general 3 years time bar period. For maritime claims the German Commercial Code provides 1 year and 2 years time bar periods.
Time bar periods under German law are suspended by force of law and out of court in certain situations. The German Civil Code stipulates for instance that a time bar period is suspended by negotiations between the claimant and the debtor regarding the claim and its circumstances until one of the parties refuses to continue the negotiations. For maritime claims the German Commercial Code provides that a time bar period is suspended by the first notice of liability which the claimant sends to the debtor until the debtor rejects liability. Further notices of liability which the claimant sends to the debtor subsequently do not suspend the time bar period again.

Table on certain time bar periods under German law

Nature of ClaimTime Bar
Contractual and statutory claims (no special time bar periods applicable)Within 3 years of the end of the year in which the claim arose and in which the claimant obtained knowledge of the circumstances of the claim and the identity of the debtor
Latent personal injury claims (no special time bar periods applicable)Within 30 years of the date of the act or omission causing the injury irrespective of when the claim arose and when the claimant obtained knowledge or should have obtained same
Latent damage claims (no special time bar periods applicable)Within 10 years of the date when the claim arose irrespective of when the claimant obtained knowledge or should have obtained same or within 30 years of the date of the act or omission causing the damage irrespective of when the claimant obtained knowledge or should have obtained same; the period that ends first is applicable
Other damages claims (no special time bar periods applicable)Within 10 years of the date when a claim arose irrespective of knowledge or grossly negligent lack of knowledge
Contract of sea carriage and bill of lading claimsWithin 1 year of the date when the goods were delivered or should have been delivered
Recourse claims of debtors of contract of sea carriage and bill of lading claimsWithin 1 year of the date when a judgment against the recourse claimant became final and binding or when the recourse claimant settled the claim provided that the recourse claimant has informed the recourse debtor about the damage within 3 month after the recourse claimant became aware of the damage and the identity of the recourse debtor
Charter party claimsWithin 1 year of the end of the year in which the claim arose
Recourse claims of debtors of charter party claimsWithin 1 year of the date when a judgment against the recourse claimant became final and binding or when the recourse claimant settled the claim provided that the recourse claimant has informed the recourse debtor about the damage within 3 months after the recourse claimant became aware of the damage and of the identity of the recourse debtor
General average contribution claimsWithin 1 year of the end of the year in which the claim arose
Passenger personal injury claimsWithin 2 years of the date of disembarkation
Passenger death claimsWithin 2 years of the date when disembarkation should have taken place or if the passenger died after disembarkation of the date of the passenger’s death but not later than 1 year after disembarkation
Damage to, loss of or delayed re-delivery of luggage claimsWithin 2 years of the date of disembarkation or when the passenger should have disembarked, whichever is later
Collision and damage without collision claims Within 2 years of the time of the incident causing the damage
Salvage claimsWithin 2 years of the completion of the salvage measures
Recourse claims of debtors of salvage claimsWithin 1 year of the date when a judgment against the recourse claimant became final and binding or when the recourse claimant settled the claim provided that the recourse claimant has informed the recourse debtor about the damage within 3 months after the recourse claimant became aware of the damage and of the identity of the recourse debtor
Wreck removal claimsWithin 2 years of the completion of the wreck removal efforts
Recourse claims of debtors of wreck removal claimsWithin 1 year of the date when a judgment against the recourse claimant became final and binding or when the recourse claimant settled the claim provided that the recourse claimant has informed the recourse debtor about the damage within 3 months after the recourse claimant became aware of the damage and of the identity of the recourse debtor

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