Georgia Statute of Limitations for Breach of Contract, Fraud, and Many Other Causes of Action
General statutes of limitations as of 2010.
Disclaimer: These statutes are provided solely for general educational informational purposes only, and although they are valid as of the date of publication, the law changes. Use them as a starting point to your research, but do not rely upon them.
The following is a general list of various statutes of limitations for Georgia.
If you're here, you probably already know that a statute of limitation is a law that proscribes the maximum time after an event takes place that a legal proceedings based on that particular event may be initiated. In other words, if you take too long to assert a cause of action, you may be barred.
Keep in mind that many of these statutes are not always the final say in a matter, as there may be other relevant statutes or case law that could modify any applicable statute of limitation. As one simple example, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice is generally 2 years, but if a foreign object is left in a patient's body, the limitations is actually 1 year after such an object is discovered. Similarly, such a statute can be "tolled" until the individual reaches the age of 10. If a statute of limitation is "tolled", then the statute of limitations does not being to run until a specified time-- in the previous example, it would begin to run when the individual reaches the age of 10. As another example, actions based on fraud can be tolled until they are (or should have been) discovered. There are many other nuances relating to many other causes of action, so if you have a question about any potential statute of limitation, I encourage you to contact my local Atlanta law firm. Even if you choose not to contact my firm, I still encourage you to contact a local attorney, and to do so quickly. Sometimes, there are other requirements that must be met prior to filing a lawsuit, which can be extremely time sensitive. For instance, you must generally provide an ante litem notice to the government within 6 months as a prerequisite prior to filing a lawsuit against the government.
Breach of Restrictive Covenant: 2 years (4 years for assessment of fees) O.C.G.A. § 9-3-29.
Actions on Bonds or Sealed Instruments: 20 years O.C.G.A. § 9-3-23.
Breach of Written Contract: 6 years O.C.G.A. § 9-3-24.
Breach of Oral Contract: 4 years O.C.G.A. § 9-3-26.
Actions on Open Account: 4 years O.C.G.A. § 9-3-25.
Actions against Executors, Guardians, or Administrators: 10 years O.C.G.A. § 9-3-27.
Actions against Land Surveyors: 6 years O.C.G.A. § 9-3-30.2.
Actions for Defamation: 1 year O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33.
Actions for Loss of Consortium: 4 years O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33.
Actions for Personal Injury: 2 years O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33.
Recovery or Destruction of Personal Property: 4 years O.C.G.A. § 9-3-32.
Actions for Childhood Sexual Abuse: 5 years (after turning age 18) O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33.1.
Fraudulent Transfers: 1 or 4 years depending on circumstances O.C.G.A. § 18-2-79.
Deficiency In Planning, Supervising, Or Constructing Improvement To Realty: 8 or 10 years O.C.G.A. § 9-3-51.
Medical Malpractice: 2 years (unless tolled) O.C.G.A. § 9-3-71.
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Official Code of Georgia (O.C.G.A.):
§ 9-3-1. Limitations Against The State
Except as otherwise provided by law, the state shall be barred from bringing an action if, under the same circumstances, a private person would be barred.
§ 9-3-2. Limitations Against Municipalities
Any claim or demand held by any municipality not in the nature of a special contract or not reduced to execution shall be barred by the general statutes of limitation of force, and all executions issued by any municipality shall be subject to the same laws relating to the statutes of limitation governing other executions.
§ 9-3-3. Applicability Of Limitation Statutes; Equitable Bar
Unless otherwise provided by law, limitation statutes shall apply equally to all courts. In addition, courts of equity may interpose an equitable bar whenever, from the lapse of time and laches of the complainant, it would be inequitable to allow a party to enforce his legal rights.
§ 9-3-5. Beneficiaries Barred Along With Trustee
Where a trustee is barred, the beneficiaries of the estate represented by him shall also be barred.
§ 9-3-6. Applicability Of Limitations To Setoffs
The statute of limitations applies to the subject matter of setoff as well as to the plaintiff's demand.
§ 9-3-7. When Mutual Accounts Postpone Running Of Limitations
The statute of limitations for a mutual account begins to run on the date of the last item thereof. A mutual account must include an indebtedness on both sides. Mere entries of credits of partial payments shall not be sufficient.
§ 9-3-20. Actions On Foreign Judgments
All actions upon judgments obtained outside this state, except judgments for child support or spousal support, or both, shall be brought within five years after such judgments have been obtained.
§ 9-3-22. Enforcement Of Rights Under Statutes, Acts Of Incorporation; Recovery Of Wages, Overtime, And Damages
All actions for the enforcement of rights accruing to individuals under statutes or acts of incorporation or by operation of law shall be brought within 20 years after the right of action has accrued; provided, however, that all actions for the recovery of wages, overtime, or damages and penalties accruing under laws respecting the payment of wages and overtime shall be brought within two years after the right of action has accrued.
§ 9-3-23. Sealed Instruments
Actions upon bonds or other instruments under seal shall be brought within 20 years after the right of action has accrued. No instrument shall be considered under seal unless so recited in the body of the instrument.
§ 9-3-24. Actions On Simple Written Contracts; Exceptions
All actions upon simple contracts in writing shall be brought within six years after the same become due and payable. However, this Code section shall not apply to actions for the breach of contracts for the sale of goods under Article 2 of Title 11 or to negotiable instruments under Article 3 of Title 11.
§ 9-3-25. Open Accounts; Breach Of Certain Contracts; Implied Promise; Exception
All actions upon open account, or for the breach of any contract not under the hand of the party sought to be charged, or upon any implied promise or undertaking shall be brought within four years after the right of action accrues. However, this Code section shall not apply to actions for the breach of contracts for the sale of goods under Article 2 of Title 11.
§ 9-3-26. Other Actions On Contracts; Exception
All other actions upon contracts express or implied not otherwise provided for shall be brought within four years from the accrual of the right of action. However, this Code section shall not apply to actions for the breach of contracts for the sale of goods under Article 2 of Title 11.
§ 9-3-27. Actions Against Fiduciaries
All actions against executors, administrators, or guardians, except on their bonds, shall be brought within ten years after the right of action accrues.
§ 9-3-28. Actions By Informers
All actions by informers to recover any fine, forfeiture, or penalty shall be commenced within one year from the time the defendant's liability thereto is discovered or by reasonable diligence could have been discovered.
§ 9-3-29. Breach Of Restrictive Covenant
(a) All actions for breach of any covenant restricting lands to certain uses shall be brought within two years after the right of action accrues, excepting violations for failure to pay assessments or fees, which shall be governed by subsection (b) of this Code section. This Code section shall apply to rights of action which may accrue as a result of the violation of a building set-back line.
(b) In actions for breach of covenant which accrue as a result of the failure to pay assessments or fees, the action shall be brought within four years after the right of action accrues.
(c) For the purpose of this Code section, the right of action shall accrue immediately upon the violation of the covenant restricting lands to certain uses or the violation of a set-back line provision.
This Code section shall not be construed so as to extend any applicable statute of limitations affecting actions in equity.
§ 9-3-30. Trespass Or Damage To Realty
(a) All actions for trespass upon or damage to realty shall be brought within four years after the right of action accrues.
(b)(1) The causes of action specified in Code Section 51-1-11 and subsection (a) of Code Section 9-3-51 for recovery of damages to a dwelling due to the manufacture of or the negligent design or installation of synthetic exterior siding shall accrue when the damage to the dwelling is discovered or, in the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have been discovered, whichever first occurs. In any event, such cause of action shall be brought within the time limits provided in Code Sections 51-1-11 and 9-3-51, respectively.
(2) This subsection shall apply to causes of action which had not expired under the former law before March 28, 2000. This subsection shall not revive any cause of action which was barred by former law before March 28, 2000.
§ 9-3-30.1. Actions Against Manufacturers Or Suppliers Of Asbestos Or Material Containing Asbestos
(a) Notwithstanding the provisions of Code Section 9-3-30 or any other law, every action against a manufacturer or supplier of asbestos or material containing asbestos brought by or on behalf of any person or entity, public or private; or brought by or on behalf of this state or any agency, department, political subdivision, authority, board, district, or commission of the state; or brought by or on behalf of any municipality, county, or any state or local school board or local school district to recover for:
(1) Removal of asbestos or materials containing asbestos from any building owned or used by such entity;
(2) Other measures taken to correct or ameliorate any problem related to asbestos in such building;
(3) Reimbursement for such removal, correction, or amelioration related to asbestos in such building; or
(4) Any other claim for damage to real property allowed by law relating to asbestos in such building which might otherwise be barred prior to July 1, 1990, as a result of expiration of the applicable period of limitation, is revived or extended. Any action thereon shall be commenced no later than July 1, 1990.
(b) The enactment of this Code section shall not be construed to imply that any action against a manufacturer or supplier of asbestos or material containing asbestos is now barred by an existing limitations period.
(c) Nothing in this Code section shall be construed to revive, extend, change, or otherwise affect the applicable period of limitation for persons or entities not set forth and provided for in subsection (a) of this Code section.
(d) Nothing contained in this Code section shall be construed to have any effect on actions for personal injury or any other claim except as specifically provided in this Code section.
§ 9-3-30.2. Actions Against Persons Engaged In Land Surveying
(a) As used in this Code section, the term "land surveying" shall have the same meaning as provided by paragraph (6) of Code Section 43-15-2.
(b) No action to recover damages for any deficiency, defect, omission, error, or miscalculation in a survey or plat shall be brought against registered surveyors or their employees engaged in the practice of land surveying who performed or furnished such survey or plat more than six years from the date of the survey or plat. The cause of action in such cases shall accrue when such services are rendered as shown from the date on the survey or plat.
Any such action not instituted within the six-year period provided by this subsection shall be forever barred.
§ 9-3-31. Injuries To Personalty
Actions for injuries to personalty shall be brought within four years after the right of action accrues.
§ 9-3-32. Recovery Of Personal Property; Damages For Conversion Or Destruction
Actions for the recovery of personal property, or for damages for the conversion or destruction of the same, shall be brought within four years after the right of action accrues.
§ 9-3-33. Injuries To The Person; Injuries To Reputation; Loss Of Consortium; Exception
Actions for injuries to the person shall be brought within two years after the right of action accrues, except for injuries to the reputation, which shall be brought within one year after the right of action accrues, and except for actions for injuries to the person involving loss of consortium, which shall be brought within four years after the right of action accrues.
§ 9-3-33.1. Actions For Childhood Sexual Abuse
(a) As used in this Code section, the term "childhood sexual abuse" means any act committed by the defendant against the plaintiff which act occurred when the plaintiff was under the age of 18 years and which act would have been proscribed by Code Section 16-6-1, relating to rape; Code Section 16-6-2, relating to sodomy and aggravated sodomy; Code Section 16-6-3, relating to statutory rape; Code Section 16-6-4, relating to child molestation and aggravated child molestation; Code Section 16-6-5, relating to enticing a child for indecent purposes; Code Section 16-6-12, relating to pandering; Code Section 16-6-14, relating to pandering by compulsion; Code Section 16-6-15, relating to solicitation of sodomy; Code Section 16-6-22, relating to incest; Code Section 16-6-22.1, relating to sexual battery; or Code Section 16-6-22.2, relating to aggravated sexual battery, or any prior laws of this state of similar effect which were in effect at the time the act was committed.
(b) Any civil action for recovery of damages suffered as a result of childhood sexual abuse shall be commenced within five years of the date the plaintiff attains the age of majority.
§ 9-3-34. Article Not Applicable To Malpractice
This article shall not apply to actions for medical malpractice as defined in Code Section 9-3-70.
§ 9-3-35. [Action By Creditor Seeking Relief Under Uniform Fraudulent Transfers Act Shall Be Brought Within The Applicable Period Set Out In Code Section 18-2-79]
An action by a creditor seeking relief under the provisions of Article 4 of Chapter 2 of Title 18, known as the "Uniform Fraudulent Transfers Act," shall be brought within the applicable period set out in Code Section 18-2-79.
§ 9-3-50. Definitions
As used in this article, the term:
(1) "Person" means an individual, corporation, partnership, business trust, unincorporated organization, association, or joint-stock company.
(2) "Substantial completion" means the date when construction was sufficiently completed, in accordance with the contract as modified by any change order agreed to by the parties, so that the owner could occupy the project for the use for which it was intended.
§ 9-3-51. Limitations On Recovery For Deficiency In Planning, Supervising, Or Constructing Improvement To Realty Or For Resulting Injuries To Property Or Person
(a) No action to recover damages:
(1) For any deficiency in the survey or plat, planning, design, specifications, supervision or observation of construction, or construction of an improvement to real property;
(2) For injury to property, real or personal, arising out of any such deficiency; or
(3) For injury to the person or for wrongful death arising out of any such deficiency shall be brought against any person performing or furnishing the survey or plat, design, planning, supervision or observation of construction, or construction of such an improvement more than eight years after substantial completion of such an improvement.
(b) Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this Code section, in the case of such an injury to property or the person or such an injury causing wrongful death, which injury occurred during the seventh or eighth year after such substantial completion, an action in tort to recover damages for such an injury or wrongful death may be brought within two years after the date on which such injury occurred, irrespective of the date of death, but in no event may such an action be brought more than ten years after the substantial completion of construction of such an improvement.
§ 9-3-52. Limitation Not Available To Owner Or Tenant
The limitation prescribed by this article shall not be asserted as a defense by any person who would otherwise be entitled to its benefits but who is in actual possession or control, as owner, tenant, or otherwise, of such an improvement at the time any deficiency of such an improvement constitutes the proximate cause of the injury or death for which it is proposed to bring an action.
§ 9-3-53. Period Of Limitations Not Extended
Nothing in this article shall extend the period of limitations prescribed by the law of this state for the bringing of any action or shall postpone the time as of which a cause of action accrues.
§ 9-3-70. "Action For Medical Malpractice" Defined
As used in this article, the term "action for medical malpractice" means any claim for damages resulting from the death of or injury to any person arising out of:
(1) Health, medical, dental, or surgical service, diagnosis, prescription, treatment, or care rendered by a person authorized by law to perform such service or by any person acting under the supervision and control of the lawfully authorized person; or
(2) Care or service rendered by any public or private hospital, nursing home, clinic, hospital authority, facility, or institution, or by any officer, agent, or employee thereof acting within the scope of his employment.
§ 9-3-71. General Limitation
(a) Except as otherwise provided in this article, an action for medical malpractice shall be brought within two years after the date on which an injury or death arising from a negligent or wrongful act or omission occurred.
(b) Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this Code section, in no event may an action for medical malpractice be brought more than five years after the date on which the negligent or wrongful act or omission occurred.
(c) Subsection (a) of this Code section is intended to create a two-year statute of limitations. Subsection (b) of this Code section is intended to create a five-year statute of ultimate repose and abrogation.
(d) Nothing contained in subsection (a) or (b) of this Code section shall be construed to repeal Code Section 9-3-73, which shall be deemed to apply either to the applicable statutes of limitation or repose.
§ 9-3-72. Foreign Objects Left In Body
The limitations of Code Section 9-3-71 shall not apply where a foreign object has been left in a patient's body, but in such a case an action shall be brought within one year after the negligent or wrongful act or omission is discovered. For the purposes of this Code section, the term "foreign object" shall not include a chemical compound, fixation device, or prosthetic aid or device.
§ 9-3-73. Certain Disabilities And Exceptions Applicable
(a) Except as provided in this Code section, the disabilities and exceptions prescribed in Article 5 of this chapter in limiting actions on contracts shall be allowed and held applicable to actions, whether in tort or contract, for medical malpractice.
(b) Notwithstanding Article 5 of this chapter, all persons who are legally incompetent because of mental retardation or mental illness and all minors who have attained the age of five years shall be subject to the periods of limitation for actions for medical malpractice provided in this article. A minor who has not attained the age of five years shall have two years from the date of such minor's fifth birthday within which to bring a medical malpractice action if the cause of action arose before such minor attained the age of five years.
(c) Notwithstanding subsections (a) and (b) of this Code section, in no event may an action for medical malpractice be brought by or on behalf of:
(1) A person who is legally incompetent because of mental retardation or mental illness more than five years after the date on which the negligent or wrongful act or omission occurred; or
(2) A minor:
(A) After the tenth birthday of the minor if such minor was under the age of five years on the date on which the negligent or wrongful act or omission occurred; or
(B) After five years from the date on which the negligent or wrongful act or omission occurred if such minor was age five or older on the date of such act or omission.
(d) Subsection (b) of this Code section is intended to create a statute of limitations and subsection (c) of this Code section is intended to create a statute of repose.
(e) The limitations of subsections (b) and (c) of this Code section shall not apply where a foreign object has been left in a patient's body. Such cases shall be governed by Code Section 9-3-72.
(f) The findings of the General Assembly under this Code section include, without limitation, that a reasonable relationship exists between the provisions, goals, and classifications of this Code section and the rational, legitimate state objectives of providing quality health care, assuring the availability of physicians, preventing the curtailment of medical services, stabilizing insurance and medical costs, preventing stale medical malpractice claims, and providing for the public safety, health, and welfare as a whole.
(g) No action which, prior to July 1, 1987, has been barred by provisions relating to limitations of actions shall be revived by this article, as amended. No action which would be barred before July 1, 1987, by the provisions of this article, as amended, but which would not be so barred by the provisions of this article and Article 5 of this chapter in force immediately prior to July 1, 1987, shall be barred until July 1, 1989.
§ 9-3-74. Barred Actions Not Revived
No action for medical malpractice which, prior to July 1, 1976, has been barred by the provisions of this chapter relating to actions shall be revived by this article.
§ 9-3-90. Persons Under Disability Or Imprisoned When Cause Of Action Accrues
(a) Minors and persons who are legally incompetent because of mental retardation or mental illness, who are such when the cause of action accrues, shall be entitled to the same time after their disability is removed to bring an action as is prescribed for other persons.
(b) No action accruing to a person imprisoned at the time of its accrual which, prior to July 1, 1984, has been barred by the provisions of this chapter relating to limitations of actions shall be revived by this chapter, as amended. No action accruing to a person imprisoned at the time of its accrual which would be barred before July 1, 1984, by the provisions of this chapter, as amended, but which would not be so barred by the provisions of this chapter in force immediately prior to July 1, 1984, shall be barred until July 1, 1985.
§ 9-3-91. Disabilities Suffered After Accrual Of Cause
If any person suffers a disability specified in Code Section 9-3-90 after his right of action has accrued and the disability is not voluntarily caused or undertaken by the person claiming the benefit thereof, the limitation applicable to his cause of action shall cease to operate during the continuance of the disability.
§ 9-3-92. Five-year Tolling For Unrepresented Estate - In Favor Of Estate
The time between the death of a person and the commencement of representation upon his estate or between the termination of one administration and the commencement of another shall not be counted against his estate in calculating any limitation applicable to the bringing of an action, provided that such time shall not exceed five years. At the expiration of the five years the limitation shall commence, even if the cause of action accrued after the person's death.
§ 9-3-93. Five-year Tolling For Unrepresented Estate - In Favor Of Creditors
The time between the death of a person and the commencement of representation upon his estate or between the termination of one administration and the commencement of another shall not be counted against creditors of his estate, provided that such time does not exceed five years. At the expiration of the five years the limitation shall commence.
§ 9-3-94. Removal Of Defendant From State
Unless otherwise provided by law, if a defendant removes from this state, the time of his absence from the state until he returns to reside shall not be counted or estimated in his favor.
§ 9-3-95. Disability Of One Or More With Joint Right Of Action; Effect Of Severability
Where there is a joint right of action and one or more of the persons having the right is under any of the disabilities specified in Code Section 9-3-90, the terms of limitation shall not be computed against the joint action until all the disabilities are removed. However, if the action is severable so that each person may bring an action for his own share, those free from disability shall be barred after the running of the applicable statute of limitations, and only the rights of those under disability shall be protected.
§ 9-3-96. Tolling Of Limitations For Fraud Of Defendant
If the defendant or those under whom he claims are guilty of a fraud by which the plaintiff has been debarred or deterred from bringing an action, the period of limitation shall run only from the time of the plaintiff's discovery of the fraud.
§ 9-3-97. Limitations Extended For Counterclaims And Cross-claims
The limitations of time within which various actions may be commenced and pursued within this state to enforce the rights of the parties are extended, only insofar as the enforcement of rights which may be instituted by way of counterclaim and cross-claim, so as to allow parties, up to and including the last day upon which the answer or other defensive pleadings should have been filed, to commence the prosecution and enforcement of rights by way of counterclaim and cross-claim, provided that the final date allowed by such limitations for the commencement of such actions shall not have expired prior to filing of the main action.
§ 9-3-97.1. Tolling Of Limitations For Medical Malpractice
(a) The periods of limitation for bringing an action for medical malpractice as provided in Code Sections 9-3-71 and 9-3-72 shall be tolled if:
(1) The injured person or his duly appointed attorney makes a request by certified or registered mail or statutory overnight delivery, return receipt requested, upon any physician, hospital, or other health care provider for medical records in their custody or control relating to such injured person's health or medical treatment which medical records the injured person is entitled by law to receive;
(2) The request, if made by an injured person's duly appointed attorney, has enclosed therewith a properly executed medical authorization authorizing release of the requested information to said attorney;
(3) Such request expressly requests that the medical records be mailed to the injured person or his attorney by certified or registered mail or statutory overnight delivery, return receipt requested and states therein that the requested records are needed by the injured person for possible use in a medical malpractice action;
(4) The injured person or his attorney has promptly paid all fees and costs charged by such physician, hospital, or other health care provider for compiling, copying, and mailing such medical records; and
(5) Such medical records or a letter of response stating that the provider does not have custody or control of the medical records has not been received by the injured person or his attorney within 21 days of the date of receiving such request.
Such periods of limitation shall cease to run on the twenty-second day following the day such request was received and shall resume on the day following the date such medical records, or response stating that the provider does not have custody or control of the medical records, are actually received by such injured person or his attorney; provided, however, that such periods of limitation shall be tolled only once for any cause of action.
(b) Any action filed in reliance upon a tolling of the statute of limitations as authorized by this Code section shall contain in the complaint as first filed allegations showing that the plaintiff is entitled to rely upon the provisions of this Code section, and said complaint as first filed shall have attached thereto as exhibits copies of the request, medical release, and evidence of mailing and receipt by certified or registered mail or statutory overnight delivery.
(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Code section, no period of limitation shall be tolled for a period exceeding 90 days except as provided in this subsection. In the event the procedure set forth in subsection (a) of this Code section has been followed by an injured person but the requested records or a letter of response stating that the provider does not have custody or control of the medical records have not been received within 85 days, the injured person shall have the right to petition the court for an order tolling the period of limitation beyond the 90 days and requiring the delivery of the medical records originally requested or a letter of response stating that the provider does not have custody or control of the medical records.
(d) It is intended that the provisions of this Code section tolling the statute of limitations for medical malpractice under certain circumstances be strictly complied with and strictly construed.
§ 9-3-98. Applicability Of Article
This article shall apply to tort actions as well as actions on contracts.
§ 9-3-99. [Tolling of Limitations]
The running of the period of limitations with respect to any cause of action in tort that may be brought by the victim of an alleged crime which arises out of the facts and circumstances relating to the commission of such alleged crime committed in this state shall be tolled from the date of the commission of the alleged crime or the act giving rise to such action in tort until the prosecution of such crime or act has become final or otherwise terminated, provided that such time does not exceed six years.
§ 9-3-110. New Promise To Be In Writing
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.
§ 9-3-111. Written Promise Following Discharge In Bankruptcy
No promise made after discharge in bankruptcy to pay a debt provable in bankruptcy from the liability of which the debtor has been discharged shall be valid or binding upon the debtor or promisor unless the same is made in writing and signed by the party making the same or to be charged therewith, or by someone duly authorized by him.
§ 9-3-112. Payment Or Written Acknowledgment Equivalent To New Promise
A payment entered upon a written evidence of debt by the debtor or upon any other written acknowledgment of the existing liability shall be equivalent to a new promise to pay.
§ 9-3-113. Effect Of New Promise
A new promise shall revive or extend the original liability; it shall not create a new one.
§ 9-3-114. Whom New Promise By Joint Contractor Binds
In cases of joint or joint and several contracts, a new promise by one of the contractors shall operate only against the promisor.
§ 9-3-115. Effect Of New Promise By Partner
After the dissolution of a partnership, a new promise by one partner shall revive or extend a partnership debt only as to the promisor and not as to his copartner or copartners.