Lebanon - Time Bars


Limitation periods impose time limits within which a party must bring a claim, or give notice of a claim to another party failing which the claimant may be prevented from bringing his claim against the alleged wrongdoer. If a claim proceeds out of time, the defendant will be able to plead the defense of limitation and the claimant will have the burden of proving that the cause of action arose within the relevant statutory period.

Time Bars in Lebanon are not regulated under a unique law. Time bars are provided for in general under the Code of Obligations and Contracts (the “Civil Code”) as well as under some other specific laws such as the Merchant Shipping Law and the Code of Commerce.

Statutory Time Bars in Claims in General

The time bar applicable to claims in general is 10 years.

However, the Civil Code provides for some special time bars relating to certain types of claims. According to this Code, are extinguished by the expiration of 5 years, the arrears, interests, dividends, house rentals, the benefits payable per annum or at shorter terms, the claims between the partners/shareholders in a company or between the latter and third parties by virtue of obligations issued from the Articles of Association of that company. 

Pursuant to the Civil Code terms, are extinguished after the expiration of 2 years:

  • the claim of merchants, suppliers, manufacturers by reason of the products they provide;
  • the claim of farmers and producers of raw materials relating to the products they provide, when these have been put to the debtor’s domestic uses, dating from the day when such products have been provided;
  • the claims of school teachers, professors, masters of public or private boarding-houses in respect of the fees owing them by their pupils, as well as in respect of the supplies provided to the latter, dating from the maturity of the term fixed for the payment of their fees;
  • the claim of domestic servants in respect of their wages and other payments owing them, by virtue of their employment agreement, as well as that of masters against their servants for the advances they have granted the latter;
  • the claim of workers and apprentices in respect of their wages as well as the action of the employer/master in respect of the sums advanced to workers; 
  • the claim of hotel operators or caterers concerning the accommodation provided to their clients; 
  • the claim of furniture and movable goods rentals in respect of the price of the rented items; 
  • the claim of doctors, surgeons, midwives, dentists and veterinary against their patients relating to their fees for providing them a medical consultations or for operations as from the date of last consultation/operation; 
  • the claim of pharmacists for the medicines they have provided, as from the date of such provisions; 
  • the claim of lawyers for their professional fees as from the final verdict or of the revocation of the power of attorney vested in them; 
  • the claim of architects, engineers and experts for their estimates or operations as from the date when the estimates have been remitted and the operations completed; and 
  • the claim of  the intermediary for the payment of his brokerage as from the conclusion of the business.

Statutory Time Bars in Contracts of Carriage

According to article 20.1 of the Hamburg Rules, any action relating to carriage of goods under the Rules Convention is time-barred if judicial or arbitral proceedings have not been instituted within a period of 2 years.

The action for unpaid freight is subject to a 1 year time bar starting from the date of the end of the voyage.

The actions for unpaid crew wages or for works supplied to the vessel are subject to a 1 year time bar starting from the date of performance of the job or work.

Statutory Time Bars in Tortious Claims

The time bar applicable to these claims is generally 10 years from the date of the negligent act or omission.

Statutory Time Bar in Collision Claims

Article 244 of the Merchant Shipping Law stipulates: 

“Any action for repair damage caused by the collision shall be time-barred at the expiration of a period of 2 years after the event.”

The recourse of the ship who has settled the third party claim (in case of death or injury) against the other colliding ship shall extinct on the elapse of 1 year starting from the date of payment.

Statutory Time Bars in Claims for Personal Injury

The time bar applicable to this type of claims will vary depending on whether the claim is of civil or criminal nature. A civil recourse for personal injury is subject to a 10 years time bar. The criminal recourse is subject to a 3 years or 10 years time bar depending on the qualification of the act which caused the personal injury (if it qualifies as an offence or a felony).

Statutory Time Bars in Latent Damage Claims

The applicable time bar in latent damage claims resulting from sale purchase agreements of immovable assets is 365 days and 30 days in case of sale purchase agreements of movable assets and animals.

The time bar applicable to the claim against the architect/engineer/contractor of a project is 5 years from the completion of the construction works.
Statutory Time Bars in Customs' Claims

Article 388 of the Customs Law regulates the time-bars applicable to customs’ claims as follows:

  1. 10 years for the collection of the duties that the taxpayer disengaged himself from by means of fraudulent manoeuvres or false or incomplete declarations. This period of time becomes effective as from the date of the fraud discovery.
  2. 10 years for the execution of any sentence or decision that may concern the customs' administration.
  3. 5 years for the collection of duties unsettled due to the administration's mistake, and for the collection of monetary penalties and forfeitures.

Possible Time Bar Interruption

It is to be noted that the time bar period may be interrupted by a judicial claim or “extra-judicial claim bearing a certified date” (such as by serving a notice of payment on the debtor through registered post or court bailiff).

Jean Baroudi
Managing Partner
Baroudi & Associates
Beirut, Lebanon

Email: Jean.Baroudi@baroudilegal.com
Phone: +961 1 428777
Fax: +961 1 423582

Summary table of the time bars applicable under Lebanese Law:

Claim Type Time Bar

Contract Claim
  • 10 years applicable to claims in general
  • 5 years applicable for certain types of claims
  • 2 years applicable for some other types of claims
Contract of Carriage Claim
  • 2 years applicable to the action related to carriage of goods
  • 1 year applicable to the action for unpaid freight
Tort Claim
  • 10 years from the date of the negligent act or omission
  • 2 years starting from the date of the event
Personal Injury Claim
  • 10 years in case of a civil recourse
  • 3 years in case the act is qualified as an offence
  • 10 years in case the act was qualified as a felony
Latent Damage Claim
  • 365 days in case of claims related to immovable assets
  • 30 days in case of claims related to movable assets and animals
  • 5 years in case of claims related to the defects and defaults of construction

Customs Claims

  • 10 years for the collection of duties
  • 10 years for the execution of any sentence or decision

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