Portugal - Time Bars
Last updated November 2018
Types of time bars: prescription / caducity
|Types of time
bars (Civil and
|The Prescription and Caducity time bars have the same consequences: the respondent or debtor or defendant will be released from liability vis-à-vis the claimant if the limitation period elapses without interruption of time.
|Solely the caducity time bar can be lawfully and validly extended, either by agreement between claimant and respondent, or by unilateral statement of the respondent. Prescription time bars cannot be extended.
Any extension, when admissible, i.e., caducity, needs to be carefully drafted and agreed between the parties, failing which it may be refuted by the grantor of the extension and be considered null and of no effect. To be properly granted and enforceable, the extension may need to involve a written agreement, a clear identification of the claim and a clear identification of the parties in respect of which an extension is being granted.
|Criminal or contravention limitation periods to start criminal or contravention offences proceedings shall be interrupted differently than the civil law limitation periods.
The interruption of the time bar in criminal and contravention time bars will involve normally the formal service of papers on the criminal (or on the contravention) defendant informing him that a criminal or a contravention proceeding has been started or, instead, will involve the filling of formal written charges against the criminal or contravention respondent. There are numerous different time bars for the various criminal and contravention offences.
Most relevant time bars:
General rule for contractual claims: the default time bar is of 20 years that need to be counted as from the date of the breach of contract. This default time bar duration shall not apply when a lower time bar is expressly stated for a particular special contract that may be at stake in the factual situation. The general default time bar of 20 years is a prescription time bar.
Claims for physical loss or damage to cargo arising out of contracts for the carriage of goods by sea ruled under the Hague Rules: 1 year counted as from the discharge of the cargo or from the date said discharge should have happened. This particular time bar is a caducity time bar. In case the carriage is a door-to-door carriage (and not a port-to-port carriage), time needs to be counted from the date of delivery of the cargo or from the date delivery should have happened.
A shipper´s or consignee´s delay claim against the carrier or the carrier´s claims pertaining to freight, demurrages and other carriage costs will be subject to a 20 years general prescription time bar.
Claims arising out of the carriage of goods by sea not ruled under the Hague Rules: 2 years counted as from the moment the claimant became aware of the existence of his claim. It is not entirely certain if this time bar is a prescription or a caducity time bar and thus it should be treated as a prescription time bar demanding commencement of proceedings to obtain a judgment and service of papers.
Bailment contract claims: 20 years counted as from the date of the breach of the contract. It is a prescription time bar.
Freight forwarders liability claims: 10 months counted as from the date of conclusion of the service. It is a prescription time bar.
Carriage of goods by road: 1 year counted as from the date of delivery of the cargo to the consignee or, instead, counted from the date of delivery of the cargo to the carrier, in case the cargo is not delivered to the consignee. It is a prescription time bar.
Collision liabilities ruled under the 1910 Collision Convention: 2 years counted as from the collision event; It is caducity time bar.
Collision liabilities ruled under the Commercial Code (Portuguese internal law) and not by the 1910 Collision Convention: 3 years counted as from the date of the event; It is a prescription time bar.Ship building or ship repair contracts: known damages/defects (two years from delivery of the vessel).
Tortious/Liability in tort claims
The time bar for claims arising out of liability in tort is of 3 years counted from the date of the negligent or intentional act or omission causing the harmful event. This time limit can be extended in case the harmful event constitutes also a criminal offence and when the prescription time bar for the criminal proceeding is longer in duration.
claims for ship
building or ship
If the damage/defect is only discovered after delivery of the vessel, the claim may be brought within 2 years as from the moment the claimant’s obtained knowledge of the existence of the damage / defect.
Mateus Andrade Dias
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