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Iran: Ruling on Foreigners’ Lawsuits Against Iranian Nationals in Iranian Courts

(Sept. 10, 2009) In July 2008, in response to a question from Iran's Minister of Justice, the Guardian Council announced that in some cases foreign nationals cannot benefit from a statute of limitations for litigation when they file lawsuits in Iranian courts. The Guardian Council is an institution established under Iran's Constitution to examine the compatibility with Islamic law and with the Constitution itself of legislation passed by the House of Representatives.

Amending its previous opinion on abrogation of the statutes of limitation in general, the Guardian Council stated that “in some cases, foreign nationals, being natural or juridical persons, cannot benefit from the statute of limitations in their financial and commercial disputes when the defendant is an Iranian national.” (New Ruling on Foreigners' Lawsuits, FARS NEWS AGENCY (Tehran), July 27, 2008, Open Source Center No. IAP20080727950057.)

Iranian courts had not been observing a similar prior opinion that had been issued on limits imposed on foreign litigants. Instead, they had been relying on the Civil Procedure Code which does not say, explicitly or by implication, that foreigners whose countries have statutes of limitation in their laws would not be entitled to take advantage of the lack of statutes of limitation in certain cases in Iran. (Id.)