Statute of limitations for a claim

If the obligee does not assert his claim for a long time, he runs the risk of forfeiting it after a certain period of time.
"The claim is statute-barred" means that the debtor is entitled to refuse payment with reference to the expiry of the statute of limitations ("defense of the statute of limitations"). The creditor can then no longer compel the debtor to pay with legal assistance.

If the obligee has received a pledge from the debtor, he can still auction this in full even after the statute of limitations. Even if the debtor pays his debt despite the statute of limitations (because he did not know the limitation period), he cannot claim back the performance.

The regular limitation period is 30 years (§ 195 BGB); It applies to private individuals among themselves, loans, and also to all claims from final judgments, e.g. B. for enforcement warrants, bankruptcy, etc.
Claims to interest and all regularly recurring services (e.g. rent, lease, pensions, maintenance payments), as well as claims of merchants and craftsmen from services for the business of a debtor (§§ 196 Paragraph 2.197 BGB), expire in 4 years.

In 2 years, the claims from business of daily legal transactions expire (claims of merchants to non-merchants, innkeepers, wage earners and salaried workers, the liberal professions, etc. It. 5196 BGB).

Start of the limitation period. The 30-year limitation period begins on the day the claim arises (Section 198 BGB). The two-year and four-year limitation periods do not begin until the end of the year (December 31, 12:00 p.m.) in which the debt was due (Section 201 BGB). The statute of limitations can be interrupted or suspended.

The statute of limitations is interrupted (§ 208 ff. BGB):

  • by sending a dunning notice
  • by filing a lawsuit
  • by filing a bankruptcy claim
  • through a partial payment or interest payment by the debtor
  • through any other acknowledgment of guilt by the debtor, e.g. B. by requesting a deferral

As a result of the interruption, the limitation period (2 or 4 years) begins again from the day the interruption ended (Section 217 of the German Civil Code).

The statute of limitations is suspended (§ 202 ff. BGB):

  • if the obligee has deferred the debtor's claim
  • if the debtor is entitled to refuse payment for any reason (justified, unfulfilled counterclaim)
  • when the administration of justice comes to a standstill (war)
  • as long as there is business supervision over the debtor's assets (bankruptcy, settlement)

In the event of an inhibition, the limitation period is extended by the period of inhibition.

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