Limitation of debt in economic turnover
Limitation of debt is a very specific institution, the purpose of which is to regulate the real legal relations between the creditor and the debtor, by releasing the debtor from the obligation to fulfill obligations that the creditor does not meet anyway. This enables debtors to evade payments. Moreover, debtors can completely avoid criminal liability for their financial obligations. So when does enforcement become impossible? As defined in Art. 117 § 2 of the Civil Code, after the expiry of the limitation period, the person against whom the claim is entitled may refrain from satisfying it, unless he renounces the plea of limitation, and the waiver of the plea of limitation before the expiry of the period is invalid.
Limitation of debt in trade - deadlines
The general period after which the claims are time-barred is the period of 6 years, counted from the date on which the obligation to pay the amount arose. However, due to different types of financial obligations, the statute of limitations for some receivables has been reduced by statute to 3 years or even to one year. However, the end of the limitation period shall be the last day of the calendar year, unless the limitation period is less than two years.
Limitation of debt after 3 years
This limitation period for claims applies to all receivables due to business activities and periodic payments, i.e. contractual penalties provided for in the contract between contractors, due to unpaid or not returned deposit, and due to unpaid or non-refunded advance and prepayment. The same period of limitation of claims is also established for receivables from promissory notes, but it applies only to the issuer of the promissory note, as the legislator only specifies a one-year limitation period for the endorser.
Limitation of debt after 2 years
A two-year limitation period for claims is provided for the entrepreneur in respect of the resulting sale, i.e. due to unpaid invoice payment or interest for late settlement of the invoice. It is similar in the case of claims under a contract for specific work, here also the limitation period is 2 years from the date on which the work was delivered or when the work should be delivered.
Limitation of debt after one year
Only twelve months was appointed by the legislator to a person who wanted to pursue their claims under the contract of carriage of persons or property and under the preliminary contract. The same limitation period is established for claims by the landlord against the tenant for the repair of damaged goods, as well as for claims by the tenant against the landlord for reimbursement of outlays for the goods used.
If the statutory deadlines are exceeded, it becomes legally impossible to enforce claims. Currently, the debtor has to raise the statute of limitations and prove that the claim is no longer due.
Ways of debtors waiting for the limitation of debt
The expired claim still exists, but is transformed into the so-called an "incomplete claim" which is characterized by the fact that it cannot be enforced forcibly. However, it very often happens that debtors abuse this right by deliberately prolonging the inability to collect the debt until the statute of limitations. However, this can be counteracted by interrupting or suspending the limitation period.
Limitation of debt and interruption of the period
The limitation period can be interrupted in three ways, by bringing the case to court or by applying to the bailiff, by initiating mediation with the debtor, or if the debtor directly or indirectly recognizes his financial obligations to the creditor (he will respond to a prompt or request to spread the debt in installments). Thanks to the interruption of the course, it is possible to significantly extend the period after which the receivables will be considered impossible to collect, because only after the completion of all court procedures related to the issuance of the judgment obliging the debtor to settle the obligations towards the creditor, the limitation period is counted again.
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Limitation of the debt for the suspension of the period
The suspension of the limitation period differs significantly from the act of interrupting the limitation period. It may only take place when the creditor is not able to pursue his claims before a court or other body appointed to consider the case, for reasons beyond his control. Such situations include, inter alia, natural disasters, social unrest and epidemics. The limitation period is then suspended only for the duration of the significant obstacles, and then its further course is resumed.
Unfortunately, it is quite common that creditors do not know their rights and are not aware of the provisions of the Civil Code, and thus cannot recover their receivables. This fact is used by debtors, effectively avoiding financial responsibility for their obligations. Often, the collection of receivables is impossible due to imprecise provisions of the act. Therefore, checking the credibility of a business partner should be the basic activity that an entrepreneur should perform before signing a cooperation agreement. A quick and very cheap way to check the reliability of a contractor is to send an inquiry to the Economic Information Bureau. Reports on the payment reliability of business entities are also made available by private companies that specialize in collecting all information about debtors, not only from their own central register of debtors, but also from bank registers, such as BIK or BRZBP. The cost of such a service ranges from several to several dozen zlotys, and this is an attractive method of securing finances compared to court, lawyer and debt collection costs.