Expiration in the legal field means the extinction of a right or action due to the expiration of the stipulated period to exercise it. It is a mode of extinction of faculties by the passage of time.
There are some rights or actions that are born with a life time fixed in advance in the Law. Once this term is exceeded, the right or action has expired and, therefore, cannot be exercised.
To understand it better, let’s look at an example. The Civil Code establishes an expiration period to challenge a contract for a cause of annulment.
If the person does not file a challenge action within the term dictated by the code, his action has expired and therefore he will not be able to challenge the contract. This means that the contract will be valid and the obligations that it entails must be fulfilled.
The main characteristics of the expiration of rights or actions are:
- Expiration periods are usually shorter than those of prescription.
- The expiration of a right is not the same as the prescription of the right.
- It is determined by law, but can also be agreed in a contract.
- It has to be appreciated ex officio by the judge. If a person files an action that is expired, it will be the judge who must indicate that it is expired.
- The expiration period cannot be interrupted, but it can be suspended on exceptional occasions.
- Expiration cannot start again after being suspended. Yes, the calculation of the term can be stopped, but, once the “counter” starts again, it continues for the same term that was left. For example, an action has three months to expire and is suspended when one month has passed. So, when the suspension is lifted, the time remaining for it to expire will be two months.
Expiration vs prescription
You have to know how to differentiate very well the expiration of the prescription when it comes to knowing the deadlines to exercise the different rights. Here we see the main differences: