Spain’s new time-bar limitation

On 6th October 2015, the Spanish Official Gazette published Law 42/2015 of 5th October, which amends Law 1/2000 of 7th January of Civil Procedure (also known as the Spanish Code of Civil Procedure).

In its First Final Provision, Law 42/2015 amends Article 1964 of the Spanish Civil Code relating to the time-bar period of personal actions. Article 1964 formerly established a 15-year time-bar period for personal actions. According to the new wording, unless they have a different time-bar period assigned, all personal actions will be considered time-barred after five years from the date in which the compliance with the obligation could have been demanded.

Law 42/2015 of 5th October entered into force on 7th October 2015.

For all those obligations that were born before 7th October 2015, the Fifth Transitional Provision of Law 42/2015 establishes the application of Article 1939 of the Spanish Civil Code. This article provides that those time-bar periods that have commenced before the enactment of the Civil Code will be regulated by the laws applicable before such enactment. However, if the time bar period established by the Civil Code elapses from the date it came into force, the action will be considered time-barred despite the fact that the previous laws may have assigned to such action a longer period of time.

This Fifth Transitional Provision effectively means that any personal action that was born before 7th October 2015 will be considered time barred latest by 7th October 2020 even if, by virtue of the former wording of Article 1964, it would have had a longer time bar period.

Article 1964 is applied to a number of actions, such as actions requesting damages as a result of a negligent performance of contractual obligations or actions requesting the performance of contractual obligations, always provided that these actions do not have any other specific time bar expressly determined by Law.