The different treatment of victims, in relation to limitation of civil actions for damages, depending on whether the fault causing the damage constitutes a criminal offence or not (Art 26 Preliminary Title of the Code of Criminal procedure), has the effect that a party who has suffered damage is in a fundamentally less favourable situation when the damage is caused by a fault constituting a criminal offence as compared to the case where the fault does not constitute a criminal offence.
In those cases where the damage only becomes apparent after a long period of time, this
leads to a serious limitation of the rights of the victim, out of all proportion with the interests which the legislator of 1878 and 1961 sought to protect, namely the right of the tortfeasor to put his past behind him, legal certainty and the public interest in avoiding a new disturbance of social peace and order where it has been restored in the meantime. These preoccupations justify specific periods of limitation for penal actions, according to the gravity of the offence. They do not, however, justify the position where the limitation period for a civil action for damages caused by these facts is five years — even taking into account the amendments which have been effected by legislation and case law — when compensation for damage caused by fault, which does not constitute a criminal offence, can be claimed for a period of thirty years. There is thus no reasonable proportionality between the measure and its effects on the victims of criminal offences.European Review of Private Law