The average in Europe is five years, while in Spain it stretches up to fifteen.
Contrary to what many people think, debts incurred by public administrations also prescribe, by normal general four years.
EAE Business School presents the study "The prescription of obligations of payment and debt. Analysis of Spain and other world economies", prepared by Pere Brachfield, Director of the Center for studies of Morosologia of EAE. The study provides an in-depth analysis of the extinctive prescription of debts, the different limitation periods depending on the type of obligation acquired and typology in the different autonomous communities and other countries.
The prescription is a mode of extinction of rights of recovery of the creditor for the course of the time, meaning that if the creditor does not claims for debt for a fixed period, occurs the extinctive prescription of debt.
"The extinctive prescription of debts in Spain is a very complex issue, since the rules which govern are contained in various laws and also the limitation periods ranging from six months to thirty years", according to Pere Brachfield warns. Another factor complicating the issue is the special regulations on the extinctive prescription of commercial debts and payment obligations of certain legal transactions which enjoy some special features which is important to know. Also, should take into account that the rules for limitation periods in the statutory rights may be different from those determined by State law.
Different time limits in Spain
Spanish law has deadlines prescription as diverse ranging from six months up to thirty years. The limitation period that applies generally is fifteen years, marked in the 1964 article of the Civil Code. This term is applicable to all actions that don't have designated in the law a special term of limitation. Within this period all payment obligations would enter the personal as, for example, credit cards.
With a term of twenty years referred mortgage debts, as from the due date initially having secured the loan. As obligations that expire after five years, referred to in article 1966 of the CC, we have the maintenance payments, the payment of rentals of rural or urban property and supplies incurred by electricity, water, gas, telephone and telecommunications companies (latter expire after five years when the debtor is entrepreneur, businessman or entrepreneur). Some law understands that when the debtor is not an entrepreneur but a citizen and mere consumer, the prescription of supplies of telephony or water bills, has a statute of limitations of three years, not five.
As obligations that expire after four years we have actions to enforce civil liability in cases of disclosure of facts relating to the life of a person that affect your reputation or good name, on the basis of provisions of article seven of the organic law 1/1982, of 5 may, Civil protection of the right to Honor, the Personal Intimacy and Family and Own Image.
Three years later, the rights of collection related to payments from professional services or supplies prescribe; which tend to be effective in a short period of time: payment to judges, lawyers, registrars, notaries, notaries, surveyors, agents and Curia, including its fees and rights. Also include payment to pharmacists, professors and teachers, doctors, architects, quantity surveyors, the purchase of any particular merchant or, for example, debts with hotels.
Actions arising from insurance contracts expire after two years according to law 50/1980 of October 8, of insurance contract (LCS). And, one year, prescribed actions for compensation for damages of extra-contractual civil liability for libel, slander and those derived from by the obligations arising from the fault or negligence.
But deadlines are same in all Spain? Pere Brachfield tells us that it is not. In Catalonia, for example, the general limitation period is 10 years, not 15, as in other parts of the State. In Navarra, on the other hand, the general limitation period lasts until age 30, making it the most comprehensive statewide.
But is the same abroad? Deadlines so that a debt is prescribed vary greatly depending on the country. Therefore we have enormous differences in regards to the extinctive limitation periods. The limitation period can go since, as it is the case of Mexico, at the age of fifteen as in Spain. There are countries where debts expire after three years (Canada, India, Germany, or Poland), others by five - six years (Netherlands, France, United Kingdom or Greece) and others with terms similar to we have in Spain (Turkey, Switzerland, Italy or Peru with 10 years, Portugal with twenty years).
The center of studies of Morosologia of EAE recommends:
Avoid inaction before a delinquent, because that law is currently lax in this regard and encourages the delinquent specialized extending payment periods.
Know the laws that apply in each particular case, especially if you are a creditor, since the Spanish right related to a wide variety of limitation periods which can lead to surprises.
Have clear deadlines from which starts counting prescription, since this affects the collection of debt.
Know well your debtor, since according to their typology (public administration, company or natural person) the limitation periods change considerably.
Learn about the possibilities we have as creditors to interrupt the extensive prescription and, therefore, extend payment deadlines and thus continue claiming payment of the debt.
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