Panama - Time Bars

Date: 30/01/2017
Source: C. Fernie & Co. S.A.
Panama - Time Bars

Statute of Limitations Panama

Contract of Carriage

Time bar for claims arising from contracts of carriage is generally one year from the date of delivery.

Panama is not signatory to any of the conventions covering contracts of carriage, however some of the rules are incorporated into the relevant governing law. When claims/suits are filed in court, the time bar stipulated in the contract is honoured by the court as long as it does not contravene the minimum statute of limitations under Panama law which in the case would be one year.

Statutory Time Bars

As per the Judicial Code prescription term is seven years for actions that do not indicate a specific time bar period.

Article 1651 of the Judicial Code specifies a one year prescription for:

  • Actions deriving from insurance contracts
  • Actions deriving from repairs and supplies to vessels
  • Actions deriving from wage disputes
  • Actions deriving from salvage
  • Actions deriving from General Average

Actions deriving from transportation within the territory of Panama, such as land transportation of cargo to a port terminal, are subject to a six month statute of limitations.

Tortious Claims

Time bar for tort claims is generally one year.

Personal Injury

Time bar for personal injury claims is generally one year from the date of the incident.

Panama is signatory to the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 as ratified under Executive Decree No.88 of the 22nd February 2013, which regulates the provisions and fills gaps in accordance with local laws.

We have nevertheless found some cases where a judge of the Panama Maritime Courts have decided to apply a two year time bar and even a seven year time bar considering that due to labour relationship, is not a tort claim but a civil claim, resulting from a contractual relationship.

Latent Damage Claims (for negligence claims excluding personal injury)

There is nothing specific in the judicial code regarding latent defects. Therefore it can be said that Article 1701 applies, which indicates seven years prescription of actions which do not indicate a specific time bar period.

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