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October 7, 2020: key date for a massive and widespread prescription of debts and obligations

| Litigation

Benjamín Prieto and Manuel García- Pozuelo analyse the prescription of debts and obligations between individuals and companies

Law 42/2015 of October 5, on the reform of the Civil Procedure Law, brought, among other innovations, the modification of the statute of limitations contained in Article 1.964 of the Civil Code.

The prescription of an action entails the impossibility to demand judicially the fulfilment of obligations or the payment of debts, without the need to analyse its origin. The extinctive prescription of payment obligations is the extinction of the credit right by virtue of the creditor's inaction during the term fixed by law.

It is a way of extinguishing rights, causing the disappearance of the legal bond between creditor and debtor, with all the legal consequences that this entails, and represents a question of great importance in legal and economic life, which in practice affects a multitude of legal relationships between individuals and companies and which makes it advisable to review the current relationships to which we are a party, in order to avoid the passing of time determining the extinction of a right. And this is without prejudice to the fact that we can suspend the prescription in the legally established manner.

This period, which has been reduced from 15 to only 5 years, is applicable to a wide range of contractual relations of a very diverse nature, and the general period of limitation is also applicable to those obligations that do not have a specific time limit. Catalonia has its own system which establishes this period at 10 years.

As a direct consequence, all debts and obligations contracted between 7 October 2005 and 7 October 2015 expire on 7 October 2020. Those contracted from 7 October 2015 lapse after five years.

Therefore, a long list of claims, such as debt claims (for unpaid invoices or rental income due), claims for payment on account, claims for damages for the marketing of financial products, actions for the termination of contracts due to the failure of one of the parties, and an endless list of legal relationships have a deadline for being legally enforced or their prescription interrupted.

In fact, the date of 7 October 2020 is configured as the maximum and insurmountable deadline for claiming all the debts and obligations indicated, or for carrying out any act that interrupts said prescription and gives rise to a new period of five more years to be able to claim them.

Any creditor who has a debt must be diligent so that the terms do not expire; there will be many companies that, because of their activity (such as financial institutions, insurance companies, etc.), have a long list of debts to claim and very little time to do so, with the risk of loss of rights.

With only a few months to go before this deadline, some large firms are adapting their procedural departments and creating ad hoc teams to deal with the task of preventing their clients from losing any opportunity to make a claim that might assist them, either by initiating the corresponding claims or by taking the necessary steps to reliably interrupt the limitation period and thus prevent the credit rights or any other rights from being lost.

You can read the full article in Cinco Días

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