Thu, Dec. 16, 2004

Gettings Claims Filed in Time

CK - Washington.   The enormous changes in the German laws affecting the statutes of limitations continue--some with urgent effect. Just yesterday, a new statute was published in the federal gazette, Bundesgesetzblatt, that contains numerous changes to the expiration rules in numerous statutes, ranging from bankruptcy via real estate, foods, pharma products, commercial activities, corporations, telecommunications all the way to fees for attorneys, patent counsel and tax advisors. The new statute, Gesetz zur Anpassung von Verjährungsvorschriften an das Gesetz zur Modernisierung des Schuldrechts came into force on the day after its publication, as per its article 25, which would be today.

The new statute complements the many new rules that currently overwhelm attorneys in Germany. Anybody with claims that used to expire after 30 years will have to get their claims filed in court by the end of this year, if the claims existed before January 1, 2002. Many other claims with shorter statutes of limitations are equally affected.

Generally, the rule still applies that claims can be filed with the court through the end of the year during which a period measured in years would expire. That rule explains the annual rush to the courthouse between Christmas and New Year's. This year, it is much worse because of all the shortened claims that under the old law may have had to be filed as late as 2032. On top of that, last minute rule changes--for which the courts will have years to sort out.

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