The statute of limitations is the extinction of the obligation to pay after a previously established period of time has elapsed. When this period elapses, the debt remains, only that the creditor loses the right to make a claim.
The debt will only be extinguished if the creditor does not start any proceedings to claim collection of the amount owed or when the debtor neither acknowledges nor admits the outstanding debt.
What is the statute of limitations?
The statute of limitations is a figure that exists in all legal relationships and is based on providing legal certainty. This means that debts are time-barred, but also penalties, civil actions and offences are extinguished depending on their seriousness.
The existence of this figure refers to the fact that for all actions there is a time limit, such as demanding a conduct, requesting a right, imposing a sanction or penalty. The time for the prescription of debts may vary according to the type of debt.
The statute of limitations is stipulated in Article 1930 of the Civil Code. The consequence of this is that once the statute of limitations has expired, no one can claim a debt.
The limitation period starts to run when the last instalment or any other amount is paid.
How to find out if a debt is time-barred in Spain?
All debts have a legal statute of limitations period that would be determined by the type of debt and is fixed in the Civil Code.
Another way to be aware of whether a debt is time-barred is if the creditor has made a claim or if the debtor has acknowledged the debt. If this has not happened, the debt can be considered time-barred.
Below we explain the statute of limitations according to the law for the different types of debt you may have:
Statute of limitations for credit card debt
The statute of limitations for credit card debt or personal loan debts is 5 years, as established in the Civil Code. Except in the case of mortgage debts, the statute of limitations is 20 years according to article 1964 of the Civil Code.
Social Security debt
The time limit for the extinguishment of a debt with the Social Security is described in article 24 of the General Social Security Law. The general term is 4 years to exercise the actions for the claim for the payment of the debts and to impose sanctions due to non-compliance.
Statute of limitations for debts with your community of neighbours
The statute of limitations for debts with the residents' association is 5 years according to the law.
Statute of limitations for debts to domestic supply companies
The time limit for you to be released from your obligations to pay for domestic supplies is 3 years. This is set out in article 1967 of the Civil Code and refers to domestic supplies such as gas, telephone, water and electricity.
Limitation period for personal debts
The statute of limitations for personal debts is established in Article 1964.2 of the Civil Code. Personal debts that do not have a specifically established time limit expire after 5 years, which are counted from the time when payment is due.
In the case of continuous payment obligations, a new period begins each time payment is not made. In the case of commercial debts secured by promissory notes or any other instrument, the limitation period is 3 years.
How is the statute of limitations interrupted?
The statute of limitations on a debt can be stopped in the following cases:
Lodging of a conciliation claim
The prescription of a debt through the filing of a lawsuit is detailed in article 143 of the Law on Voluntary Jurisdiction.
Filing a judicial claim
Claiming through the courts is a right of the creditor and in the lawsuit he must clearly state that he does not abandon his intention to recover his claim.
This is any action, such as a burofax, that involves a point in time and interrupts the deadline (so that the debt does not lapse).
It is exciting to know the deadlines that the law gives us so that a debt or obligation is no longer enforceable and the benefits that can bring us in our day to day. If you have a question about debts and deadlines for claiming them, call us.