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Judicial time-bars in France.

Pursuant to the entry into force of the Law n° 2008-561 dated 17 June 2008, the statutory time bars have now been subjected to considerable modification.

The most radical change relates to the default (i.e. in the absence of a specific provision to the contrary) time bar in regard to the pursuit of a claim or invoking a legal right in France.

The statutory time bar has been reduced:

- in disputes governed by civil law from 30 years to 5 years.
- in disputes governed by commercial law from 10 years to 5 years.

The other changes which have come about include

- claims brought by the victim of an incident which led to an injury - the time-bar is now 10 years after the date upon which the injuries are held to be stabilised,

- claims relating to the ownership of real estate are normally time barred after 30 years, but an exception is introduced for a possessor who holds a valid deed of conveyance and who has held the property in good faith for 10 years.

Another noteworthy change is that it is henceforth possible contractually to:

- agree, as between the parties, on a time limit applicable to disputes arising from the contract, (n.b. the time limit bar may not be shorter than one year or greater than ten years)

- agree, as between the parties, for additional grounds for the interruption of the time bar (n.b. this is not applicable to certain contracts such as insurance or contracts to which a consumer is a party)

The Law formally came into force on 20 June 2008 and the French Code of Civil Procedure has now been amended to take into account these changes.

For further explanation or information, please write to Tim Lesaffre, a French Attorney and Counselor-at-law, at