Time-bars, time-limits, prescription or in other jurisdictions, the statute of limitations, are legal time restrictions used to deter the enforcement of claims.
In the United Arab Emirates and similarly to other countries, these time limits are not provided in one specific statutory reference, nevertheless and generally speaking, civil claims have a 15 year prescription period from the time of its existence, except those that have shorter or longer time limits set by particular legislation.
The following are some of the prescriptive periods provided under various legislation in the United Arab Emirates:
- A civil claim or a right bring suit against a party shall not be admissible after the lapse of 15 years without legal excuse;
- After the lapse of 15 years, a claim for recovery of revenue against a holder in bad faith may not be heard without legal excuse;
- Claim for remuneration for work performed or expenses incurred in connection with the profession of physicians, pharmacists, lawyers, engineers, experts, professors, teachers, and brokers may lapse after 5 years without legal excuse;
- Unpaid taxes and fees are not recoverable after 5 years subject to the provision of special laws;
- After 2 years, the rights of merchant or manufacturer to recover payment for items they supplied shall lapse, as well as the right of hotel and restaurant owners against their clients in relation to the costs of accommodation and food. Workers servant and wage earners shall also have a 2-year prescriptive period to collect unpaid wages and costs of supplies provided to them;
- As to construction disputes, the employer has right to claim against the contractor or consultant within 10 years from the delivery of work, however, the case must be brought to court within 3 years after the discovery of the defect.
- For obligations arising out or in connection with commercial activities between traders, the time-bar is 10 years;
- The liability arising from a harmful act or a tortious act must be brought to court within 3 years. The harmful act may be from an overt action or omission in violation of a law or contract.
- The claim against air carrier and its related entities must be made within 2 years following the arrival of the plane, or the date the plane supposed to arrive or the day the carriage service was stopped.
- The UAE Marine Code also provided specific time limits for action relevant to the carriage and marine services; 1 year for charter party claims; 2 years for pilotage and towage claims; 2 years in marine collision claims; and 2 years for marine insurance claims.
There are other specific time-bars in other laws in the UAE and in each Emirates but the list above are the ones that are prevailing in the current time.
Take note however that time bars do not extinguished the liability or the claim but merely impedes a person from enforcing the same.