The statute of limitations on a written contract is six years and the statute of limitations on an oral contract is four. This means you have a six or four year time frame to sue a party who has breached their contract with you. What if someone entered a written or oral contractual agreement with you but the statute of limitations has already expired?
Well, the law in Georgia under O.C.G.A. §9-3-110 states: “A new promise in order to renew a right of action already barred or to constitute a point from which the limitation shall commence running on a right of action not yet barred, shall be in writing, either in the party’s own handwriting or subscribed by him or someone authorized by him.”
The new promise may be express or may be implied from an acknowledgement of an existing debt. The new promise or acknowledgement, in addition to being in writing, must meet two requirements: 1) it must be made by the debtor to the creditor, and 2) must “sufficiently identify the debt or afford a means of identification with reasonable certainty,” although it is unnecessary that the acknowledgment state the amount of debt. See National City Bank v. First Nat’l Bank, 193 Ga. 477 (1942.) Additionally, a new promise to pay may be evidenced by a series of letters. Id.
Thus, the written acknowledgment or new promise establishes a new point from which the statute of limitations begins to run. See Langford v. First Nat’l Bank, 122 Ga. App. 210 (1970). This means, if someone owes you money but the statute of limitations has already run out—you can try to extend it by writing them a letter or email about the money they owe you to see if they respond. If they respond by acknowledging the debt (see the criteria as stated above) the statute of limitations will be extended.
Additionally, when a new promise is given, the duration of the limitation is governed by the nature of the original obligation; thus, a written promise reviving the period of limitation for a written contract would be six years. A written promise reviving the period of limitation for an oral contract would be four.
Keep in mind the new written promise could not be considered a new contract because there would be no new consideration involved, only a revival of the old.
If you need to have a business dispute or breach of contract issue, contact the Oinonen Law Group LLC at 404-654-0288 to help you with your business needs.