What is the Statute of Limitations on a debt in Virginia

What is the Statute of Limitations on my debt?


A number of people have asked what the statute of limitations is on debt in Virginia. The answer is both simple and complex.

A contract which is in writing has a 5 year time from the date the plaintiff first has the right to sue, called breach.
A contract which is not in writing (oral contracts are valid in Virginia) which includes promises and other agreements, is 3 years from the date the plaintiff has the first right to sue.

Here is where it gets interesting.

Some contracts are subject to a different Statute of Limitations. If the contract is for the sale of goods, it would be subject to a special term, under the Virginia Uniform Commercial Code, which is 4 years.
And not all oral contracts are enforceable. There is another law, called the Statute of Frauds (which is correctly called the Statute for the PREENTION of Frauds), in which case some agreements, even though they should be enforceable, are not enforceable. Some examples are contracts for more than $500.00; contracts which cannot be performed in less than 1 year, and contracts for the sale or transfer of land. There are other things that are covered by this statute, but those are the most important here.
A contract under seal has a 6 year statute of limitations. But what does a contract under seal mean? It means that where the signature line is that it says SEAL. This is not a notarized contract.
A Notarized contract is a contract with a special kind of witness- a Notary- who witnesses your signature. A Notarized contract should still have a 5 year statute.
Except that not all written documents are a contract in writing. A written contract has all the terms and conditions on its face, or are easily found. For example, a contract that says that the interest rate is the highest prime rate in the Wall Street Journal on the first Monday of each month, is still a contract in writing. A contract that says that the terms can be changed by one party at any time by giving notice 30 days in advance is NOT a contract in writing, IF anyone makes a change.

But what gives the right to sue?

The right to sue come when a party breaches the contract. Typically, it is the first time a person fails to make a payment when due. However, some contracts have other terms that can trigger default, or quasi-default. Examples include if you go over your credit limit. This may be a default, or the contract may specify that if you go over the limit and do not pay it down to under the credit limit within 30 days that would be default. Turning in the collateral MIGHT be a default,

Can the statute of limitations be extended?

Sure. If the time to sue has started, under certain circumstances, a payment may restart the statute of limitations. An unconditional promise to pay in writing will restart the statute of limitations. An oral promise to pay will not restart the statute of limitations.

What if the contract calls for the law of another state?

Virginia law says that the time to sue is the shorter of the time in Virginia or the law of the state of the contract. So what law applies to the statute of limitations? If the agreement says that the law is that of Delaware, and Delaware says the statute is 3 years, then 3 years would be the longest it could be.


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Richmond, VA 23230

Virginia Payday Loan Act Overview

The Virginia Payday Lender Act (VPLA), §6.2-1800 et seq., is a statute created to regulate the way payday lenders in the Commonwealth do business, and to protect consumers from unfair practices.

The VPLA governs the conduct of payday lenders. The law defines a “payday loan,” and then regulates the behavior of persons who “engage in the business of making payday loans.” A payday loan, then, is defined as a “small, short-maturity loan on the security of” a check, a bank account, or your income.

Businesses that make payday loans are required by the VPLA to register with the State Corporation Commission. Under the statute, this also includes payday lenders on the internet doing business in Virginia. Payday lenders are also required under the Act to follow rules regarding the loans that they make to consumers.

First, the VLPA set limits on the interest rates that a payday lender can charge. (These interest rates can vary depending on other statutes, though; for example, interest rates for active duty military personnel are different).  It also limits the fees that they can build into the agreement. Also, consumers have the RIGHT to start making payments (with a minimum of $5) before the date the loan is due without penalty.

Furthermore, there are additional rules regarding how the payday lenders can treat a consumer when they’re collecting on the loan. Like the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the VPLA prohibits harassment or abuse, false or misleading statements, and unfair collection practices.

If a payday lender violates any of the rules outlined above, the consumer is entitled to bring suit in Virginia state court. The law entitles a consumer to actual damages, statutory damages, attorneys’ fees, and court costs. In addition, any written agreement terms that violate the VPLA are unenforceable against the consumer.

Don’t let payday lenders take advantage of you. You have RIGHTS and you should exercise them. At Krumbein Consumer Legal Services, we want to be your advocate. We will stand up to the lenders on your behalf to make sure that your rights aren’t violated, and that you get compensated when they go too far.


If you are not a Virginia Resident, click here to find a lawyer near you.


The rights afforded to you, as a consumer, under the VPLA and the VCPA means that a corporation or party who has violated your rights may ultimately be made to pay for statutory damages, actual damages, and your legal fees. Therefore, if we agree to represent you in any case, you won’t pay any attorney’s fees unless we are successful and we recover on your behalf. We are here to serve and have assisted many consumers TO enforce their legal rights. Let us try and see if we can help you too. That means you pay no fee in your case unless we recover.

Contact us by e-mail or by telephone or fax or US Mail.

Krumbein Consumer Legal Services, Inc.
5310 Markel Rd. Suite 102
Richmond, VA 23230
804-303-0209 (fax)