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In law, a doctrine stating that one cannot knowingly let one's rights lie dormant and then suddenly assert them. For example, if one builds a home on another's property without the objection of the property owner, the property owner cannot sue for ownership of the house 10 years later. There is no time limit on laches.
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A doctrine of equity,or fairness,holding that people cannot sleep on their rights and then, after the passage of time and possibly the intervening claims of other people,suddenly demand that the law fix everything.The concept is similar to a statute of limitations,except that it has no fixed time period and is totally dependent on the particular circumstances of a case.

Example: Ruby plants 10 pecan trees on the wrong side of her property line with Jake. Jake knew this when the first shovel of dirt was turned, but he remained silent. Seven years later Ruby begins harvesting pecans to supplement her income, but Jake sues her and claims the pecans belong to him. Most likely the court will rule that Jake's claims are barred by laches and Ruby may harvest pecans until the trees stop bearing.

The Complete Real Estate Encyclopedia by Denise L. Evans, JD & O. William Evans, JD. Copyright © 2007 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
De son cote, le Collectif des defenseurs sahraouis des droits de l'Homme (CODESA) d'El-Ayoun occupee a egalement condamne les actes laches de la police marocaine de ce vendredi.
Summary judgment is therefore denied on Skawa's laches defense.
or doctrine of laches. (84) However, museums have proven to adhere
After the jury rendered a verdict for plaintiff, the District Court ruled that plaintiff could not recover from the dissolved corporate defendant or from the individual defendants pursuant to laches, finding that plaintiff knew defendants were selling products bearing one of plaintiff's marks.
JELD-WEN has presented the affirmative defense of laches. Laches is an available equitable defense to divestiture.
The appellate panel determined the delay did not change their conclusion interpreting the statute but the EEOC's decision not to seek monetary relief for excessive deductions before 2006 meant the court did not need to reach the issue of laches, which was raised by the county.
In the only substantial judicial treatment of such a situation, the Ontario Court of Appeal allowed the equitable defences of laches and good faith purchaser for value to bar the asserted Aboriginal title claim.
An opinion dated 4th July, 2018 under the signatures of the full bench of the Supreme Court of Liberia cites the lack of legal and factual merits in the case; adding that the informants suffered waiver and laches by waiting for fourteen years before attending to their alleged grievance rather than pursuing same when the supreme court handed down its opinion and judgement as prescribed by law in such case.
Et ce n'est pas du tout l'Arabie Saoudite qui contredira ces verites historiques, en depit de ses laches traitrises!
If the Supreme Court perceives patent law and copyright law to apply different standards for, say, the defense of laches, then the Court seems more likely to take the case.
'Indeed, when the government is the real party in interest, and is proceeding mainly to assert its rights, there can be no defense of the ground of laches or prescription,' the decision penned by Associate Justice Noel Tijam reads.