Time limits – warranty

Warranty liability covers defects identified within 2 years after issuing the item to the buyer (5 years in the case of real estate).

 

A claim for repairing the defect or replacing the item can be made within one year after identifying the defect. The same time limit applies to the possibility of making a statement on withdrawal from the contract or price reduction. If the buyer previously demanded replacement or repair, the time limit for making a statement on withdrawal from the contract or price reduction begins upon lapse of the time limit for replacement or repair.  More favorable rules regarding prescription apply in the case of consumer sales.

 

Importantly, the 2-year time limit is not the time limit during which the buyer can make claims against the seller. Therefore, even 2 years after issuing the item to the buyer the seller cannot be certain that no warranty claims will be made. The following example explains how the time limits work.

 

An example: A sales contract is made on January 2, 2015. The item is issued to the buyer on January 5, 2015. The seller will be liable under warranty if a defect is identified on or before January 5, 2017. So, if the item breaks down on January 5, 2017, the seller will still be liable, even though warranty claims are made by the buyer after that date.

 

Assuming that the defect occurred on January 5, 2017, the buyer can claim repair, replacement, price reduction or withdrawal from the contract until January 5, 2018.

 

It must be remembered that if the buyer is a trader, they will lose their warranty rights if they fail to investigate the item and promptly notify the seller about any identified defects. In the example presented above, the buyer will be able to make the said claims until January 5, 2018 only if they duly carried out their  obligations.

 

If a claim for repair or replacement is made after the end of the time limit, the seller can refuse to satisfy that claim quoting the period of prescription as a reason. A statement on price reduction or withdrawal from the contract will be ineffective.

 

The 2-year time limit for identifying a defect does not apply in the case of fraudulent non-disclosure of the defect by the seller.

 

The time limit for identifying a defect becomes extended if the seller or the manufacturer declares a minimum use-by date occurring later than 2 years after issuing the item to the buyer.

 

An example: On January 2, 2015 the buyer bought a fire extinguisher and collected it on the same day. The use-by date declared by the manufacturer is March 31, 2017. If a defect is identified on March 31, 2017, the seller will be liable under warranty, even though the defect occurred later than 2 years after issuing the fire extinguisher to the buyer.

 

The running of time limits is suspended if the buyer takes legal action. In such a case time limits recommence only after final conclusion of the procedure.

 

An example: A sales contract is concluded on January 2, 2015. The item is issued to the buyer on January 5, 2015. A defect is identified on January 5, 2017. The buyer demands the item to be repaired. The seller refuses explaining that repair is impossible. On January 2, 2018 the buyer applies to court for obliging the seller to repair the item. The application is dismissed (the court finds that repair is indeed impossible). The decision becomes final on March 5, 2019. In such a situation the buyer can still make other claims until March 8, 2019. The duration of the court procedure does not count towards time limits. Since the procedure began 3 days before the end of the time limit for making warranty claims, after the final conclusion of the procedure the buyer still has those 3 days for taking action.