CJEU explains the term "Limitation Period" (C-149/18)

In another case and ruling (C-149/18), the case concerned the vehicle of a Portuguese injured party, which was damaged in an accident in Spain in August 2015. In November 2016, he initiated proceedings in Portugal for reimbursement of his uninsured losses. Under Portuguese law, the limitation period is 3 years. Under Spanish law, which follows the EU Rome II Regulation, the limitation period is 1 year. The resulting problem related to the interpretation of the European Regulation on the law applicable to non-contractual obligations (Rome II), and the extent to which a national law provision (Portuguese law) can be considered to be mandatory. Overriding mandatory rules are those rules which are mandatory even if they do not form part of the law applicable to the dispute. They override the choice of law made by the parties or which results from the application of the conflict rules that have determined the law applicable to the legal relationship. The Court ruled that the Rome II Regulation must be interpreted as meaning that “a national provision, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, which provides that the limitation period for actions seeking compensation for damage resulting from an accident is three years, cannot be considered to be an overriding mandatory provision, within the meaning of that article.” That is only possible if the “court hearing the case finds, on the basis of a detailed analysis of the wording, general scheme, objectives and the context in which that provision was adopted, that it is of such importance in the national legal order that it justifies a departure from the law applicable, designated pursuant to Article 4 of that regulation.” Furthermore, the scheme in question must not have been harmonized by secondary EU legislation.

See also, C-149/18, judgment of 31 January 2019.

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