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Dispute over statute of limitation in Vietnam

1. Restarting the statute of limitations for lawsuits


Buyer (Plaintiff) signs a contract with Seller (Defendant) to buy tea. According to the contract, the Plaintiff had advanced an amount of money to the Respondent, but then, due to the poor quality of tea on the market, on August 20, 2013, the two parties signed an agreement, according to which, the Respondent had to return the tea. amount received and interest to Plaintiff. On December 15, 2014, the parties made a document confirming that the Respondent still owed the Plaintiff 4 billion dong in advance. Because the Respondent did not pay the debt, on January 5, 2017, the Plaintiff sued the Respondent at arbitration.


The Arbitration Council found that according to Article 33 of the 2010 Commercial Arbitration Law, "unless otherwise provided by specialized law, the statute of limitations for initiating a lawsuit according to arbitration procedures is 2 years from the time when the legal rights and interests law is violated". The law on commercial arbitration does not provide for the consequences of the expiration of the statute of limitations, but according to the civil law, "...if that time limit expires, the right to initiate a lawsuit is lost" (Clause 3, Article 150 of the Civil Code 2015 - Civil Code 2015). The Arbitration Council determined that this was a commercial dispute under a goods sale and purchase contract, so the statute of limitations for initiating a lawsuit is 2 years from the time when legitimate rights and interests are infringed (Article 319 of the Commercial Law 2005). Therefore, the 2-year statute of limitations for lawsuit has expired (The petition is dated January 5, 2017). However, the Respondent confirmed (after being sued) that they did not deny the amount owed to the Plaintiff even though the statute of limitations for lawsuit had expired, but only requested the Plaintiff to reconsider (exempt/reduce) the claim for interest. due to late payment. Thus, the Respondent acknowledges that he still owes the Plaintiff the principal amount, there is no dispute about this amount but only the dispute about the interest.


The recognition that the principal is still owed makes the statute of limitations for initiating a lawsuit still under the provisions of Article 157 of the Civil Code 2015 as follows: "1. The statute of limitations for initiating a civil lawsuit begins again in the following cases: a) The party obliged to admit part or all of its obligations towards the petitioner". Therefore, the statute of limitations for initiating a lawsuit begins again with a period of 02 years from the day following the date the Respondent acknowledges that he still owes the Plaintiff according to Clause 2, Article 157 of the Civil Code 2015: "the statute of limitations for initiating a civil lawsuit begins again from from the day following the date of occurrence of the event specified in Clause 1 of this Article [the defendant has admitted part or all of the obligation]". The Arbitration Council decided that the statute of limitations for initiating the lawsuit still remained and issued a judgment forcing the Respondent to pay the Plaintiff an advance amount of VND 4 billion.


2. The statute of limitations does not apply


Company A (Plaintiff) and Company B (Defendant) enter into a legal service contract that states that the Plaintiff must deposit money and the Respondent must ensure that the lawsuit succeeds. Result failed. More than 2 years later, the Plaintiff sued for the refund of the deposit, but the Respondent said that the statute of limitations of 2 years had expired, so the Plaintiff lost the right to sue. The Arbitral Tribunal finds that the Claimant's deposit (80% of the contract value) means that title to this amount remains with the Claimant.


The defendant's receipt of the money does not mean that title has been given to them. Article 155 of the 2015 Civil Code provides that “The statute of limitations for initiating a lawsuit does not apply in the following cases: “…2. Claims for protection of property rights ..." but "Requests for protection of property rights" includes a claim for property. Claiming property is a measure to protect property ownership according to the provisions of Clause 2, Article 164 of the Civil Code 2015 as follows: "...Owners, holders of other property-related rights have the right to request a Court , other competent state agencies force the person infringing the right to return the property, stop the act of unlawfully obstructing the exercise of property rights and other property rights and demand compensation. damages". Therefore, the Arbitral Tribunal decided not to apply the statute of limitations in this case or in other words that the settlement of this dispute is not affected by the 2-year statute of limitations under Article 33 of the Commercial Arbitration Law 2010 (Law on Commercial Arbitration). Trade Center") as follows: "Unless otherwise provided by specialized law, the statute of limitations for initiating a lawsuit according to arbitration procedures is 2 years from the time when legitimate rights and interests are infringed".


3. Time is not included in the statute of limitations


The shipping company (Plaintiff) signs a ship insurance contract with the insurance company (Defendant). In the letter dated 03/01/2017, the Plaintiff informed the Respondent that the Respondent's ship had a maritime accident. The Respondent received this notice and subsequently requested the Plaintiff to supplement the dossier, waiting for the loss assessment report. After receiving the loss assessment report, on February 13, 2020, the Respondent informed that the loss was not covered by the insurance liability and the statute of limitations had expired. Plaintiff sued at arbitration. The Arbitral Tribunal found that immediately after the ship's accident, the Plaintiff had a written notice dated January 3, 2017 and the Respondent confirmed receipt of this letter. In the letters dated 06/01/2017, 12/01/2017 and 02/28/2017, Respondent requested additional documents because the scope of Respondent's insurance liability was unclear. At some later correspondence, the Respondent said that he was asking the assessment company to collect more documents to complete the loss assessment report in order to have a compensation settlement for the Plaintiff.


The Arbitral Tribunal finds that from January 3, 2017 to before February 13, 2020, the Claimant has not received any written denial of insurance liability of the Respondent. On the contrary, the Respondent only requested the Plaintiff to supplement the dossier, waiting for the damage assessment results. Thus, the case is still under review, the Plaintiff is still waiting for the Respondent's conclusion but has not yet exercised his right to sue. Clause 1, Article 156 of the 2015 Civil Code stipulates as follows: "Time not included in the statute of limitations for initiating a civil lawsuit, ... is the time period when one of the following events occurs: ... 1. objective obstacles making the right holder unable to initiate a lawsuit, claim within the statute of limitations" and "...objective obstacles are obstacles that cause the obligee to be affected by objective circumstances. , civil obligations cannot know that their lawful rights and interests have been infringed or cannot perform their civil rights and obligations. Therefore, the period from January 3, 2017 to February 13, 2020 is not included in the statute of limitations. Therefore, the statute of limitations (3 years) has not yet expired, so the Plaintiff still has the right to sue the Respondent.

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