End of the year = time-bar trap?

At the latest when the year is drawing to a close, it is time to conduct a time bar analysis within the company. Are there claims that will become time-barred on December 31, 2021? We would like to provide you with a few brief notes on measures to prevent the expiry of time limits.

The court’s payment order procedure is a fast, effective and inexpensive way of pursuing claims and obtaining a title. However, caution is advised when applying for a payment order for the purpose of suspending the the time bar. The problem with this standardized procedure is that in some cases the reason for the claim to be stated in the application form cannot be specified precisely enough, with the result that the court responsible for the order for payment rejects the application. In such a case, any suspension of the running of the limitation period would probably not have taken place and the claim would have become time-barred.

An alternative to the payment order procedure could be a request for conciliation at Hamburg’s ÖRA, the “Öffentliche Rechtsauskunft- und Vergleichsstelle” (public legal information and conciliation office). According to a ruling by the Federal Court of Justice, a conciliation application filed there suspends the time bar even if the applicant does not have a place of jurisdiction in Hamburg under the German Code of Civil Procedure (ZPO). An additional advantage is that the fees for such proceedings are comparatively moderate.
However, a word of caution here as well: Under recent case law, such an application is considered to be in abuse of rights (and consequently not to suspend the statute of limitations) if the applicant is already aware at the time of filing the application that the opponent seriously and finally refuses to settle.

Finally, we would like to mention the lawsuit. This classic method of asserting a claim is a reliable means of protecting claims from the statute of limitations – provided that the action is filed with the competent court before the end of the year. However, it requires longer preparation and also, when it is filed, well-founded substantiation as well as the submission of appropriate supporting documents. The disadvantages of this variant are thus the more intensive preparation as well as the fundamentally longer duration of the proceedings and the current workload of the courts, so that more time must be planned for taking this route until the claim is legally established at the end of the day.

Our experts will be happy to advise and support you individually in securing your entitlements beyond the turn of the year.