Time Limitations for Legal Cases in Spain

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Posted and filed under Legal Issues in Spain.

In Spain, there are different regional laws concerning the Civil Law. Therefore there is general Spanish law, and the law in our Region (Valencia).

Here we refer to general Spanish law.

Spanish law in the Civil Code also distinguishes between the terms Prescription (“Prescripción”) and Expiration (“Caducidad”). The main differences between those terms is an action subject to Prescription means that the time limit can be stopped by a burofax or acknowledgement by the accused and then start again from that date, whereas Expiration is a set legal time limitation period.

Here I explain the time limitation periods that generally apply under the Civil Code or Prescription.

Employment

An employee must lodge an application with the relevant Tribunal or Court within 20 working days (art. 59.3 Statue of
Workers Rights) otherwise they lose a right to be able to claim for dismissal or redundancy. For salary, they have one year. 

Contracts and debts

A party loses its right to enforce payment of a debt or completion of a contract unless a court action or proceedings are commenced in Court within 5 years now, previously 15 years (it changed in 2015) and there are some exceptions.

Personal Injury and death claims

The Civil Code in Spain dictates that claims have to be within the relevant period. Each crime has different prescription periods.

If you would like to check whether your case is still valid, please let us know and we would be happy to help. 

29 Comments

  • Maria

    My hotwater tank broke in my apartment in December 2017 .Andalucia ,Spain . Causing a flood in the building . Damages known were repaired by my insurance . This July 2019 a neighbor has contacted me and said she has just discover dameges in her apartment because she was not there for 3 years. She send an email asking for Me to pay her 3.000. 00 euros for repairs and damages to her apartment and if not she will take the case to justice . I am not in Spain . Any thoughts or recommendations?

    • Nicola Ryan

      Good Afternoon Maria,

      It would be best to ask your neighbour to contact your insurance company directly, they will send a claims inspector out to assess the claim.

      Kind regards
      Nicola

  • Jason

    A spanish driver ran over people in Senegal and has sense returned to Spain. What is the statute of limitations of recouping costs for the personal injuries of those struck?

  • Terry

    I came across a piece of old machinery on some waste ground some 15 years ago and now after this period the previous original owner has come in contact and says it was theft and wants to make charges against me. Is the statute of limitations applicable in such a case.

    • Nicola Ryan

      Good Afternoon Terry,

      Thank you for your enquiry.

      Although this is an unusual case, we believe that it would be out of time. We hope this helps.

      Kind regards
      Nicola

  • Guy Camacho

    Under Spanish law what is the statute of limitation for libel (printed) and slander (verbal) against a private person? // Thank you.

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Guy, I am sorry but there is not a simple answer to this as these type of actions are regulated by the penal code in Spain. Thus it depends on the severity and type of crime to the time limitation. Kind regards

  • Allan Young

    My community borders a golf club. For 18 years Villa owners on the front line have been permitted access in order to maintain and paint walls and balustrades, fumigate drains and allow security patrols.

    Out of the bue and with no discussion or notice access points have been blocked denying access for these critical functions.

    Are they allowed to do this.

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Allan, You need to check with your community Administrators regarding this point as they will have the relevant information I think to answer. How annoying though. With kind regards

  • Anonymous

    If a Spanish debt is pursued wrongly in the UK and dismissed on jurisdictional grounds is limitation still running in Spain? Or does the commencement of proceedings in the wrong jurisdiction (the UK) stop the clock in Spain.

    • Amanda Thomas

      Hi Nick, The wrong jurisdiction doesn´t affect you right to claim the debt in the right jurisdiction, unless time limitation is out of time here. If we can help please send us the history and any relevant documents as we have a lot of experience in claiming debts. Kind regards, Amanda

  • len fryers

    regarding property in MURCIA what is the statute of limitation for debt, I have been told its 30 years is this correct?

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Len, we would need to know the exact situation to advise as time limitations vary, Kind regards

  • Yves

    Hi, husband’s car had an embargo placed on it in 2013. He died in 2018.. can the embargo be enforced against his wife ? (Nb. The car was dumped with a garage as it was not driveable, before his death to be disposed of and was therefore not included in the inheritance deeds as wife (separated) was unaware of its existence. She has received car tax bills now in her name which she has paid as else the tax office said they would embargo her account. The garage denies all knowledge of the wareabouts of the car and she has no paperwork for it.

    • Amanda Thomas

      Good morning, Please can you send for the attention of Amanda an email with the amount you paid and send us the paperwork

      We can study to confirm if we can claim that money. Kind regards.

  • Meeta Bhasin

    I was unable to pay my mortgage in Alicante Spain and it has been 11 years. The bank which has since changed from LaCaxia to Caxia has contacted us chasing the debt. We rang to enquire what the amount due is and are waiting to hear back. Can we walk away from this?

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Meeta, No, I am afraid not, as you can lose the property but also be chased overseas for the debt to be enforced against you, I am afraid. It takes years but the best thing is to sort it properly with the Bank. The best thing is to try to reach an agreement with the bank for a “dacion en pago” or agreement to hand back the keys and come to an agreement regarding the outstanding debt. Kind regards

  • Mr David Webb

    I was un­able to pay my mort­gage in Spain, and the property was repossessed. It was at a time when my 3-year-old daughter was battling leukemia…I lost my work etc due to welfare necessities for my daughter. That was approx 15 years ago. I am back in the UK now, since 2014. I have no assets at all, and I was declared insolvent in 2019. I am currently in an IVA. The bank which has since changed from LaCaxia to Caxia has con­tac­ted chas­ing the debt. Is there anything I can do? I am at my wits end and cannot see a point in carrying on!!

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear David, We can try to come to an agreement with the Bank to sign an agreement, but it is not guaranteed and it takes a lot of time, documentation and money. If you have nothing (and I am so sorry you are in this position and about your daughter) then they cannot take anything from you, so there is little you can do but inform them of that, Kind regards

  • Lorraine

    In 2015 my son was taken into a room at the Ibiza airport by the transport police, they had a photo of him when he was about 13 years old that was on his residencia card. They gave us a telephone number to call as they did not know what it was about We called the number but no one spoke Spanish so we asked a solicitor to call and he could not find out any information.
    In 2007/2008 he was involved with a bunch of boys throwing stones across a motorway, a stone hit a coach window and my son and others were accused of this offence. The police were called and they took a statement and finger prints of my son he was then 16 years old so we had to get a solicitor, she did say it might go to court. Before any court case my son was suffering with his eye sight and we had to go on various trips to hospital and he was diagnosed with Mitochondrial. It could not have been him that hit the coach as he had double vision at that time. We returned to Uk for treatment in 2008.
    We did hear a year or so later that there was a court hearing and we think the other boys blamed my son as he was not there, at that time we did not care as we were in the UK.
    Now we have a problem because if my son is going to be pulled into a room at every Spain airport that is not good. I would like him to go on holiday to any of the Spain’s island now and in the future.
    I called the local police station in the Spanish area and they hold no records. Can you tell me as this is 13 years ago this happened should this be statutory barred? and if not what can I do.

    • Amanda Thomas

      Good morning, it is highly likely that this would be out of time limitation but the only way to be sure is for us to request a criminal records certificate in Spain. I would also try to contact the former lawyer for all paperwork relating to the case. If we can help please let us know by email. Kind regards

  • Frank Monson

    What would be the statute of limitations on Fraud . I had someone 6 years ago transfer their shares in a company to their name.

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Frank, I am sorry but we would need to study the case to be able to advise. With kind regards, Amanda

  • Bridget Hanna

    I was defamed by bank staff in my local branch of Unicaja. I have been making a complaint for several months but I am getting no where. Despite this being quite serious the bank is seemingly not interested. The defamation involves me doing something illegal. Can I make a case for libel?

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Bridget, You don’t mention where the branch is. Please email us with details of the defamation, of the evidence for it, and when it happened and where. It may not be worth the cost of pursuing this through the Courts in Spain but we will study and advise, With kind reagrds

  • Kacey

    Hi, my dad owed money in Spain from 2017. He passed away last year and the woman he owed the debt to is calling me for payment. If I do nothing until the debt hits 5 years old in February 2022, can I get it written off?

    • Amanda Thomas

      Dear Kacey, There is no legal obligation on you or anyone else to pay your late father’s debt. You can refuse and ignore her. With kind regards.

  • Savannah Duane

    Can an embargo keep being renewed every four years against business premises as filing was two months late on last renewal this is 12 years down the line

    • Nicola Ryan

      Afternoon Savannah,

      Thank you for your enquiry.

      It would depend on the debt, to whether it would expire after 5 years. If your debt has been attached to your business premises for 12 years, we feel this would need to be paid in full. We would suggest checking the amount, in case there is interest added for non payment. We hope this helps.

      Kind regards
      Nicola

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