Statutory limitations period shortened to six years
Good news for consumers, bad news for creditors. Soon, the general limitations period will become shorter. Due to the upcoming changes to the Civil Code, creditors will have six years, and not ten, as it is now, to take action against dishonest counterparties who owe them money.
Lawmakers decided that the general prescription period that applies to most liabilities does not need to be that long and six years is plenty of time to make a claim. The advantage of the shorter period of limitations is increased protection of consumers. Proponents of the new legal provisions also hope to unclog Polish courts as fewer cases will find their way to the courtroom and will need to be examined by judges.
Prolonging the limitations period is not the only change that is to be introduced by the government. If the person that is owed money brings a claim to court, judges will automatically verify whether the prescription period for the liability in question expired. It is an important change, as currently creditors may seek payment from their debtors even when the limitation period is long over. It is the debtor that in such case may point to the circumstance and, in this way, avoid paying the debt. This gave way to companies that buy old liabilities to take advantage of the unaware debtors.
Another change to the regulations regarding statute of limitations is determining the end of the limitations period. According to the new provisions, liabilities will expire on the last day of the calendar month. This rule will not apply to the debts for which prescription period is shorter than two years.
One needs to note that not all liabilities adhere to the general prescription period. Certain types of debts are governed by separate provisions that overrule the 10 (soon: 6) year limitation. These include employment for specific work agreements, rent arrears, or provision of services not regulated by separate legal provisions.