Statute of limitations - The claim of a creditor against his debtor is subject to the statute of limitations after a certain period of time, the so-called limitation period: From now on, the debtor has the right to refuse performance.
The statute of limitations does not automatically lead to the expiry of the claim, but merely establishes a right to refuse performance, which the debtor must expressly invoke in order to ensure that the claim that still exists against him can no longer be enforced.
The regular limitation period is 3 years (§ 195 BGB). Exceptions: The 10-year limitation period z. B. for rights to a property, and the 30-year limitation period z. B. in the case of surrender claims from property as well as legally established claims and claims from enforceable settlements or enforceable documents (§§ 196, 197 BGB).
The regular limitation period begins at the end of the year in which the claim arose (Section 199 (1) BGB), in all other cases when the claim arises (Section 200 (1) BGB). Special deadlines apply to the delivery of defective goods: The resulting claims of the buyer expire in 30 years if the defect consists in a real right of a third party to the purchased object or a burden entered in the land register; in 5 years if there is a defect in a building, and in all other cases in particular in the case of defects in movable objects such as goods - in 2 years.
In the case of real estate, the statute of limitations begins with the handover, otherwise with the delivery of the purchased item (Section 438 (1) and (2) BGB). It should be noted that in the context of a mutual commercial purchase, claims for material defects can only be asserted if the delivered goods are examined immediately and if a defect is discovered, this is also reported to the seller immediately (Section 377 of the German Commercial Code).