Expiration and Prescription of Legal Actions Deadlines in Spain considering the State of Alarm

In the first place we must make it clear in this regard that Royal Decree 463/2020, of March 14th, which declares the State of Alarm for the management of the health crisis situation caused by COVID-19 provided:

Fourth additional provision

Suspension of prescription and expiration periods

The prescription and expiration periods of any actions and rights will be suspended during the period of validity of the State of Alarm and, where appropriate, of the extensions that are adopted.


This exceptional situation ended on June 4th 2020 and according to article 10 of Royal Decree 537/2020, of May 22, which extends the state of alarm declared by Royal Decree 463/2020, of March 14, by which The state of alarm is declared for the management of the health crisis situation caused by COVID-19:

Article 10

Prescription periods and expiration of rights and actions suspended by virtue of Royal Decree 463/2020, of March 14th

With effect from June 4th, 2020, the suspension of the prescription and expiration of rights and actions will be lifted.


In this article, we deal with the limitation and expiration periods directly established by the Civil Code, not those derived from other provisions or private agreements, and it is obvious that cases in which the limitation or expiration periods had been consummated before March 14th, 2020 or that started from June 4th, 2020 because, in principle, since they should not be affected by the declaration of the State of Alarm at all. In this group we must also include those that would have started running between March 14th and June 3rd if the declaration of the State of Alarm had not been mediated, which began to be counted from June 4rth. Therefore, I insist, we only refer to terms that had started to run before March 14th, 2020.

Regarding the terms that according to the Civil Code are counted by days, I have dispensed with collecting the abundant assumptions that are foreseen in it, whose computation is facilitated because they are usually short terms. The initial day does not vary, they skip all the days between March 14th and June 3rd and continue on June 4th until completion.

For monthly or annual terms, the rule is the same, but for practical purposes the ordinary maturity/expiration must be calculated and 82 calendar days added to it. As an example in this case, a civil liability action derived from an accident that took place on July 5th, 2019, would have prescribed on July 5th, 2020 but now it will be necessary to add 82 calendar days to that date.


To finish, let us remember, for the purposes of the calculation, that the deadlines in civil law will be calculated starting the counting from the day after the act is communicated and the expiration day is also counted in them and that on the other hand there is a day of grace to take into account when submitting judicial filings:

Article 135 of the Civil Procedure Law.

Presentation of writings, for the purposes of the time requirement of the procedural acts. When the judicial offices and the subjects

....

5. The presentation of writings and documents, whatever the form, if it is subject to a term, may be made up to fifteen hours on the business day following the expiration of the term.

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