Periods for filing an action

Some types of legal action must be raised within a certain period. This may be because the underlying material claim otherwise expires by limitation, or because specific conditions prescribe the raising of action within a certain period of time.

Standard statutory periods of limitation

Standard statutory periods of limitation are determined in accordance with the Swiss Code of Obligations (OR). In principle, claims fall under the statute of limitations after ten years.

A five year period of limitation exists in the case of the following:

  • claims relating to rent, interest on capital and other periodic services;
  • claims relating to the supply of foodstuffs, catering and innkeepers’ debts;
  • claims relating to handcrafts, retail of goods, provision of medical services, professional work by lawyers, legal agents, procurators and notaries as well as claims relating to employees’ working conditions.

This period of limitation is interrupted by debt enforcement or legal action within a current period of limitation, i.e. the corresponding period starts anew, such that the associated claim does not expire due to limitation.

Specific periods for filing an action

The law prescribes specific periods for various actions which, if exceeded, lead to the dismissal of the action. Specific periods exist, in particular, for the following actions:

  • a period of one month for contesting the resolutions of associations;
  • a period of two months for contesting the resolutions of general meetings;
  • a period of one year for claims of invalidity and mitigation under inheritance law.

Be careful when initiating legal action: the so-called periods of forfeiture under Federal law do not hold if action is not initiated correctly.

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