In our Blog we referred to the enactment of Law 42/2015 of 5th October, amending the Law 1/2000 of 7 January on Civil Proceedings (LEC). In that column we made a brief reference to changes in the LEC. However, not only the LEC was modified but also the statute of limitations, which was reduced from fifteen to five years in cases of personal legal actions. The Law modifies Article 1964 of the Civil Code worded as follows:
1. The mortgage remedy shall become barred by statute of limitations after twenty years.
2. The personal actions with no special term will be bared by statute of limitations after five years since they can be enforced. In the continuous obligations of doing or not doing, that period will start every time there is unfulfilment.".
The new wording will affect many legal relationships, for example:
Any personal obligation which does not contain a special term of statute of limitations.
Obligations originated in a purchase/sale contract.
Resolution actions for breach of contract.
Contractual liability actions performed by the Community of Owners .
Liability actions brought by a co-owner against the Community of Owners for damage caused by common elements.
Actions of the landlord for rent review .
There is also transitional regime (Fifth Transitional Disposition) by which the statute of limitations for personal actions that have no special term, born before the date of entry into force of Law 42/2015 shall be governed by Article 1939 CC which states: “prescription begun prior to the publication of the present Code shall be governed by the laws prior hereto; but if the whole period required herein for prescription should expire after the present Code enters into force, such prescription shall be effective even if such prior laws should requiere a longer lapse.”.
It could be interpreted so, that the legal regime applicable to the statute of limitations would be the following:
1. Legal relations born before October 7, 2000: prescribed today.
2. Legal relationships born between October 7, 2000 and October 7, 2005: The previous 15-year period would apply.
3. Legal relationships born between October 7, 2005 and October 7, 2015: the transitional rule of Law 42/2015, which refers to Article 1939 CC is applied. The prescription would be 7 October 2020.
4. Legal relations born after October 7, 2015: the current term of five years under amended Article 1964 CC would apply.
Voices have been raised in relation to the retroactive application of the law, as in the case of legal relations born prior to the effective date thereof, the limitation period is shortened.