Is the interruption of the period of limitation for actions under CIM UR permitted?
Article 48 § 1 CIM provides that the default period of limitation under CIM UR is one year. Longer periods are also possible: for instance, two years in case of wrongful behaviour of the carrier (act or omission with intent to cause loss or damage, or where these latter occurred due to the reckless behaviour of the carrier). Where the suspension and interruption of the periods of limitation are concerned, the CIM UR refer to national law (Article 48 § 5: “Otherwise, the suspension and interruption of periods of limitation shall be governed by national law.”). In addition to that, Article 48 § 3 CIM provides that: “The period of limitation shall be suspended by a claim in writing in accordance with Article 43 until the day that the carrier rejects the claim by notification in writing and returns the documents submitted with it.”
As a legal consequence of the claims procedure of Article 43 CIM, in the event that the period of limitation is interrupted the internal relationship between the successive carriers is governed by the CIT Agreement concerning the Relationships between Carriers in respect of International Freight Traffic by Rail (AIM). This provides two additional elements under Article 3.3.9 AIM on the expiry of the right to allocate compensation between the carrier during the period of limitation (see also Article 4.3.6 AIM): “The right to allocate expires two years after the presentation of the claim for compensation or, if no claim has been presented, two years after the expiry of the period of limitation set down in Article 48 CIM, unless the competent carrier has notified the participating carriers before expiry of the period, that legal proceedings or other compelling reasons prevent timely allocation. The right to allocate is then extended for two years. If the allocation cannot be made before the expiry of this new period or any subsequent period of two years, the competent carrier must again inform the participating carriers of the reasons preventing it before the expiry of each new period. In the absence of this information, the right to allocate lapses completely.”