Statutes of limitations are enactments in a common law legal system that sets the maximum time after an event that legal proceedings based on that event may be initiated. In civil law systems, similar provisions are typically part of the civil code or criminal code and are often known collectively as periods of prescription.
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- The limitation of suits is founded in public convenience; and attended with so much utility, that Courts of Equity adopt this Statute as a positive rule, and apply it, by parity of reason, to cases not within it.
- Lord Mansfield, Johnson v. Smith (1759), 2 Burr. Part IV., p. 961; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 163.
- This very cause between parties who (on both sides) are strangers to the whole transaction, shews the wisdom of some limitation.
- Lord Mansfield, Johnson v. Hargreaves (1760), 2 Burr. Part IV., p. 962; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 163.
- It has often been matter of regret in modern times that, in the construction of the Statute of Limitations, the decisions had not proceeded upon principles better adapted to carry into effect the real objects of the Statute; that instead of being viewed in an unfavourable light as an unjust and discreditable defence, it had not received such support as would have made it what it was intended to be, emphatically a Statute of repose. It is a wise and beneficial law, not designed merely to raise a presumption of payment of a just debt from lapse of time, but to afford security against stale demands after the true state of the transaction may be forgotten, or be incapable of explanation by reason of the death or removal of witnesses.
- Joseph Story, 1 Peters, Sup. C. Rep. (U. S.) 360; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 163.