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International Law

Jean G. Robert on Private International Law: Does the Filing of a Lawsuit in a Foreign Court Stop Limitation?

UPDATE (11-18-2013):  The update only affects the Province of Quebec. The conclusion that limitation is stopped by the filing of a lawsuit only if such a lawsuit is filed before a Quebec court was based on a 1988 Quebec Superior Court Judgment. This has changed.

The Quebec Court of Appeal, in a detailed and reasoned decision in the case of Sudaco S.p.A. vs. Connexions commerciales internationales C.T. inc., rendered on December 14, 2012 and reported at 2012 QCCA 2254, interprets the expression "judicial demand" used in Article 2892 of the Civil code of Quebec, as to include a lawsuit instituted in another country and hence, such a lawsuit will act to interrupt limitation.

This is in line with the position taken by the courts in France and by Germany, as mentioned in the article.


A foreign plaintiff files a lawsuit against a defendant in the latter's jurisdiction to exercise a right governed by the law of the jurisdiction of the foreign plaintiff. Does the filing of such lawsuit stop the limitation period?

On the basis of the rule existing in civil matters across Canada, in the U.K. and in France, to the effect that limitation is governed by the law applicable to the merits of the dispute, the jurisdiction seized of the lawsuit would be obliged to apply the limitation rules of the foreign jurisdiction.

An important rule in limitation which exists in most legal systems is that the filing of, commencing or bringing, a lawsuit before a court will stop or interrupt limitation until the judgment is rendered.

Where a lawsuit is filed with the courts of the jurisdiction whose laws govern the merits and hence limitation, it will be quite clear that this rule, where it exists, will apply and interruption will take place.

But, does it take place if the lawsuit is filed with the courts of another jurisdiction, a jurisdiction whose laws do not govern the merits?

Of course, the answer depends on what the rules of limitation of the jurisdiction whose law governs the merits, say.

About the Author:

Jean G. Robert est diplome de la faculte de droit de l'Universite de Montreal et est devenu membre du Barreau du Quebec en 1975. subscribers can access the complete commentary, Robert on Interruption of Limitation.

Access the French language version of this excerpt.

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