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Distinguishing the interruption from the suspension of the limitation period

27 Jan 2022

Analysis of the decision of the Court of Appeal of Aix en Provence, 14 May 2020, n°17/21636 Transport and Logistics Bulletin n°3786 of 25 May 2020

The significant difference between the suspension of the limitation period and the interruption of the limitation period lies in respect of their effects : the interruption of the limitation period erases the period acquired up to that point and starts a new period of the same duration as the old one.

Alors qu’à l’inverse, la suspension du délai de prescription n’efface pas le délai ancien, il arrête le cours du délai puis le fait reprendre à la fin de la cause de la suspension.

However, sometimes an interruption of time and a suspension of time are intertwined in the same case, so that even judges sometimes have difficulty distinguishing the two.

The case in question concerns a private individual who, in order to carry out work in his house, decided to store his furniture in a furniture storage facility. The removal of this furniture was completed on January 14, 2013 by the moving company. However, a theft in the storage area leads the applicant to move the rest of his furniture to another storage unit, which is partially damaged during transportation, before water damage occurs in the second storage unit damaging them even more.

On July 28, 2013, the owner instructed a request for a summary expert report.

On October 29, 2013 the subsequent order was issued, and the expert filed his report on June 30, 2015.

The petitioner and Insurers are assigned to the merits in April 2016.

The judgment then declares the action to be prescribed with regard to the one-year period provided for in Article L133-6 of the Commercial Code.

The CA overruled the first instance decision by going back to the calculation and qualification of the suspension and interruption of the limitation period.

First, it should be remembered that the suspension of a time limit stops its progress, whereas the interruption triggers a new time limit of the same duration as the old one from the date of the interruptive act. (Articles 2230 and 2231 of the Civil Code)

In this case, the referral of the case to the judge in summary proceedings is an interruptive act, which therefore starts a new period of time of the same duration.

The course of this new time limit is, however, suspended by the expertise measures. This suspension ends on the date of the submission of the expert report.

In this case, the starting date of the new time limit granted by the interruptive act is immediately suspended by the implementation of the expert measures. When the report is filed, the period of time starts again for one year.

Therefore, the statute of limitations would have accrued in this case on June 30, 2016, and the case was therefore not time-barred.

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