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Effects of the 2. COVID-19 Act on time limits under civil law

While the course of procedural time limits is largely clarified by the 2. COVID-19 Act, the Austrian legislator currently intervenes only selectively in civil law time limits. The guiding aim of the legislator is to relieve the courts. The pressure of having to go to court during the crisis should be removed.

As a result, Art 21 § 2 of the Act provides for a prolongation of time limits within which an action or application must be filed or a declaration before a court is to be made. The explanatory remarks to the Act clarify that limitation periods benefit from such prolongation. This means that the period from 22 March 2020 to the end of 30 April 2020 does not need to be taken into account when calculating limitation periods.

It remains unclear, however, whether and how the 2. COVID-19 Act intervenes in other substantive law periods in civil and commercial matters, such as contractually agreed due dates or warranty periods.

The explanatory remarks to the Act also clarify with respect to procedural time limits and the express exception regarding performance periods that time limits for (performance) obligations are not to be covered by the current measures. We therefore believe that the 2. COVID-19 Act generally has no influence on such time limits. Payments must still be made on the date agreed upon so far, warranty periods have not been extended. If, however, a defect occurs during the warranty period and if the period for bringing an action would expire, the entitled party may bring the matter before the court taking into account the above mentioned prolongation period without the claim becoming time-barred.

The legal situation is thus different from Germany where debtors are also to be relieved by the envisaged COVID-19 measures (see the draft law on mitigating the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in civil, insolvency and criminal procedure law).


Please note: This newsletter merely provides general information and does not constitute legal advice of any kind from Binder Grösswang Rechtsanwälte GmbH. The newsletter cannot replace individual legal consultation. Binder Grösswang Rechtsanwälte GmbH assumes no liability whatsoever for the content and correctness of the newsletter.

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