The period of extinctive prescription, or statute of limitations, begins to run either when certain event occurs (objective system) or when the claimant discovers their claim (subjective system). Event-based accrual, if strictly applied, may well lead to the harsh outcome for a claimant: A claim can be prescribed despite claimant’s ignorance on their own claim. If, and only if, there are reasonable grounds for such ignorance, the outcome is not only harsh but also unfair. To mitigate the problem, this article suggests to loosen the event-based accrual by considering “objective discoverability” in certain cases where claimants are typically and structurally hard to discover their own claims in time. If so, the claimant’s ignorance is due to the lack of objective discoverability; and it should suspend the
beginning of the prescriptive period. Limiting such suspension to those typical cases strikes balance between a claimant’s interest and The case law of Korea also supports the doctrine. The Supreme Court has
recognized at least three sorts of claims, the prescriptive period of which accrues when it becomes objectively discoverable for the claimant. : insurance claims, restitution claims against a corporation or other legal persons who flawed in their decision-making procedures, and subcontractor’s claim for the establishment of mortgage in newly-built construction against a contractor. For certain delictual claims, moreover, the Court de facto suspends the accrual of prescriptive period on the grounds of the objective discoverability, by suspending the time when the claim
itself accrue; the cases include those where objectively unforeseeable latent damages have crystallized later and where the wrongdoing itself became objectively discoverable later.
Those claimants are at structural disadvantages in discovering their respective claims. Therefore their justifiable ignorances should be considered in deciding when the prescriptive period should begin. The article further argues for applying this doctrine to claims based on piercing a corporate veil doctrine and certain breach of
contract claims. On the other hand, for some statutory claims for damages, especially those with strict liabilities or punitive damages, the doctrine shall be limited.