Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Time Bar Limitations Under Omani Law

Sometimes, little-known procedural points can be decisive, even trumping legal substance. Time bar limitations are a classic example of this.

What is a time bar limitation?

A time bar limitation is a maximum period of time established by law for the exercise of a claim, judgment, or right, such that the claim, judgment or right will lapse if it is not exercised within this time period. In other words, a person wishing to exercise a right that is subject to a time bar limitation must use this right within the period stated in the law, or else lose the right. Likewise, if a certain judgment that is subject to a time bar limitation is not carried out within the legally specified period, then that judgment lapses and is no longer applicable.

Omani law prescribes a variety of time bar periods in relation to different types of legal matters. This article highlights several of these time bar limitations which are relevant to businesses.

Under the Law of Commerce

The Law of Commerce (Royal Decree No. 55/90) includes numerous time bar limitations, particularly in relation to the carriage and delivery of goods. Some of these include:

  • A consignee, in case of damage to goods, must submit a contestation to the carrier immediately after he discovers the damage and no later than seven days from the date of delivery.

  • Where an item is delivered without reservation, the right to seek recourse against the carrier due to damage, partial destruction or delayed arrival shall lapse unless the consignee proves the condition of the goods and lodges an action against the carrier within thirty days from the date of delivery.

  • The limitation period for filing a court case in respect of a guarantee of the defect is one year as from the date of delivery of the item sold, unless a guarantee for a longer period has been given.

  • Any lawsuit in relation to a bill of exchange against the person that accepted it shall lapse after three years.

  • The limitation period for an action arising from a contract for the carriage of goods or persons or a contract of carriage commission agency shall be one year.

  • The limitation period for the obligation of merchants towards each other in relation to their commercial activates shall be ten years as from when the date for performance of such obligations lapses (unless the law provides for a shorter period).

  • Under other Omani statutes

    Certain key time bar limitations are prescribed by other Omani statutes as well, including the Engineering Consultancy Law (Royal Decree No. 120/94) and the Labor Law (Royal Decree No. 35/2003). These limitations include:
  • In the Engineering Consultancy Law, if the engineering consultancy office’s duties are restricted to design and do not include supervision or execution, the engineering consultant shall only be responsible for design defects and all security cases shall lapse after three years from the time of discovering the defect without taking action.

  • In the Engineering Consultancy Law, the project owner of the engineering consultancy office and the supervisor shall be jointly responsible with the contractor for the defects in the projects designed by them or executed under his supervision for ten years from the date of handover of the project; provided that a claim in respect of any defect must be filed within three years of when such defect is discovered (as noted in the preceding bullet).

  • In the Labor Law, the employee’s rights to bring an action shall lapse after one year of the facts and circumstances that gave rise to such an action.