Limitation Laws across Legal Systems: Origins, Rationales, and Contemporary Debates

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Abdus Samad Khan
Dr. Shaista Naznin
Sobia Bashir


Limitation laws have a long history in legal systems and serve several important purposes. One of the primary rationales behind limitation laws is to promote finality and certainty in legal disputes, as well as to encourage timely resolution of claims, protect defendants from stale claims, and prevent the burden of litigation from lingering indefinitely. The scope and duration of limitation periods vary between legal systems and jurisdictions, with factors such as the type of claim, the parties involved, and public policy considerations influencing their definition. While limitation laws are intended to promote fair and efficient dispute resolution, they can also create barriers to justice, particularly for marginalized or disadvantaged groups. Failing to comply with limitation periods can have significant legal and practical consequences, including the loss of a party's right to pursue a claim. Limitation laws also interact with other legal doctrines, such as laches, equitable estoppel, and waiver, and can intersect with areas of law such as criminal, tax, and bankruptcy law. Currently, there are ongoing debates and proposals for reforming limitation laws in various legal systems, with arguments for and against changes such as extending or reducing limitation periods, introducing or eliminating discoverability rules, and considering the impact on access to justice for marginalized groups.

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