This word, derived from the French lecher, is nearly synonymous with negligence.
2. In general, when a party has been guilty of laches in enforcing his right by great delay and lapse of time, this circumstance will at common law prejudice, and sometimes operate in bar of a remedy which it is discretionary and not compulsory in the court to afford. In courts of equity, also delay will generally prejudice. 1 Chit. Pr. 786, and the cases there cited; 8 Com. Dig. 684; 6 Johns. Ch. R. 360.
3. But laches may be excused from, ignorance of the party’s rights; 2 Mer. R. 362; 2 Ball & Beat. 104; from the obscurity of the transaction; 2 Sch. & Lef. 487; by the pendancy of a suit; 1 Sch. & Lef. 413; and where the party labors under a legal disability, as insanity, coverture, infancy, and the like. And no laches can be imputed to the public. 4 Mass. Rep. 522; 3 Serg. & Rawle, 291; 4 Hen. & Munf. 57; 1 Penna. R. 476. Vide 1 Supp. to Ves. Jr. 436; 2 Id. 170; Dane’s Ab. Index, h.t.; 4 Bouv. Inst. n. 3911.
A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
laches n. the legal doctrine that a legal right or claim will not be enforced or allowed if a long delay in asserting the right or claim has prejudiced the adverse party (hurt the opponent) as a sort of “legal ambush.” Examples: knowing the correct property line, Oliver Owner fails to bring a lawsuit to establish title to a portion of real estate until Nat Neighbor has built a house which encroaches on the property in which Owner has title; Tommy Traveler learns that his father has died, but waits four years to come forward until the entire estate has been distributed on the belief that Tommy was dead; Susan Smart has a legitimate claim against her old firm for sexual harassment, but waits three years to come forward and file a lawsuit, after the employee who caused the problem has died, and the witnesses have all left the company and scattered around the country. The defense of laches is often raised in the list of “affirmative defenses” in answers filed by defendants, but is seldom applied by the courts. Laches is not to be confused with the “statute of limitations” which sets specific periods to file a lawsuit for types of claims (negligence, breach of contract, fraud, etc.).
Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.
A defense to an equitable action, that bars recovery by the plaintiff because of the plaintiff’s undue delay in seeking relief.
Laches is a defense to a proceeding in which a plaintiff seeks equitable relief. Cases in Equity are distinguished from cases at law by the type of remedy, or judicial relief, sought by the plaintiff. Generally, law cases involve a problem that can be solved by the payment of monetary damages. Equity cases involve remedies directed by the court against a party.
Types of equitable relief include Injunction, where the court orders a party to do or not to do something; declaratory relief, where the court declares the rights of the two parties to a controversy; and accounting, where the court orders a detailed written statement of money owed, paid, and held. Courts have complete discretion in equity, and weigh equitable principles against the facts of the case to determine whether relief is warranted.
The rules of equity are built on a series of legal maxims, which serve as broad statements of principle, the truth and reasonableness of which are self-evident. The basis of equity is contained in the Maxim “Equity will not suffer an injustice.” Other maxims present reasons for not granting equitable relief. Laches is one such defense.
Laches is based on the legal maxim “Equity aids the vigilant, not those who slumber on their rights.” Laches recognizes that a party to an action can lose evidence, witnesses, and a fair chance to defend himself or herself after the passage of time from the date the wrong was committed. If the defendant can show disadvantages because for a long time he or she relied on the fact that no lawsuit would be started, then the case should be dismissed in the interests of justice.
The law encourages a speedy resolution for every dispute. Cases in law are governed by statutes of limitations, which are laws that determine how long a person has to file a lawsuit before the right to sue expires. Different types of injuries (e.g., tort and contract) have different time periods in which to file a lawsuit. Laches is the equitable equivalent of statutes of limitations. However, unlike statutes of limitations, laches leaves it up to the court to determine, based on the unique facts of the case, whether a plaintiff has waited too long to seek relief.
Real estate boundary disputes are resolved in equity and may involve laches. For instance, if a person starts to build a garage that extends beyond the boundary line and into a neighbor’s property, and the neighbor immediately files a suit in equity and asks the court to issue an injunction to stop the construction, the neighbor will likely prevail. On the other hand, if the neighbor observes the construction of the garage on her property and does not file suit until the garage is completed, the defendant may plead laches, arguing that the neighbor had ample time to protect her property rights before the construction was completed, and the court may find it unfair to order that the garage be torn down.
The laches defense, like most of equity law, is a general concept containing many variations on the maxim. Phrases used to describe laches include “delay that works to the disadvantage of another,” “inexcusable delay coupled with prejudice to the party raising the defense,” “failure to assert rights,” “lack of diligence,” and “neglect or omission to assert a right.”
West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
Nullify – Nullification?
verb abolish, abrogate, ad inritum redigere, annul, cancel, cast aside, counteract, countermand, declare null and void, deprive of efficacy, deprive of legal force, disannul, dissolve, invalidate, make useless, make valueless, make void, negate, neutralize, obliterate, offset, override, overrule, overturn, quash, recall, recant, render invalid, renege, repeal, repudiate, rescind, retract, reverse, revoke, suspend, vacate, vitiate, void
See also: abate, abolish, abrogate, adeem, alleviate, annul, balk, cancel, contravene, counteract, defeat, destroy, disable, disavow, discharge, disinherit, disown, disprove, dissolve, eliminate, eradicate, expunge, extinguish, extirpate, frustrate, invalidate, kill, negate, neutralize, obliterate, override, overrule, overthrow, quash, recall, recant, renege, repeal, repudiate, rescind, revoke, supersede, terminate, vacate, vitiate, void, withdraw
A sanctioned doctrine of trial proceedings wherein members of a jury disregard either the evidence presented or the instructions of the judge in order to reach a verdict based upon their own consciences. It espouses the concept that jurors should be the judges of both law and fact.
The traditional approach in U.S. court systems is for jurors to be the “triers of fact,” while the judge is considered the interpreter of law and the one who will instruct the jury on the applicable law. Jury nullification occurs when a jury substitutes its own interpretation of the law and/or disregards the law entirely in reaching a verdict. The most widely accepted understanding of jury nullification by the courts is one that acknowledges the power but not the right of a juror or jury to nullify the law. Jury nullification is most often, although rarely, exercised in criminal trials but technically is applicable to civil trials as well, where it is subject to civil procedural remedies such as the Judgment Notwithstanding the Verdict.
In criminal cases, however, the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution makes final a jury trial that results in an acquittal, and it guarantees freedom from Double Jeopardy. This gives juries an inherent power to follow their own consciences in reaching a verdict, notwithstanding jury instructions or charges to the contrary.
v. to annul or set aside. In law, a motion to quash asks the judge for an order setting aside or nullifying an action, such as “quashing” service of a summons when the wrong person was served.
To abrogate, annul, avoid, or cancel a contract; particularly, nullifying a contract by the act of a party. See Powell v. Linde Co., 29 Misc. Rep. 419, GO N. Y. Supp. 1044 ; Ilurst v. Trow Printing Co., 2 Misc. Rep. 3G1, 22 N. Y. Supp. 371.
(Black’s Law Dictionary)
Degree of unreasonableness and unfairness of a contract or deal prompting a court to modify or nullify it.
Legal principle where a court will modify or nullify conditions of contract placing one party at the other’s mercy.
That which is null and completely without legal force or binding effect.
The term void has a precise meaning that has sometimes been confused with the more liberal term voidable. Something that is voidable may be avoided or declared void by one or more of the parties, but such an agreement is not void per se.
A void contract is not a contract at all because the parties are not, and cannot be, bound by its terms. Therefore, no action can be maintained for breach of a void contract, and it cannot be made valid by ratification. Because it is nugatory, a void contract need not be rescinded or otherwise declared invalid in a court of law.
A void marriage is one that is invalid from its inception. In contrast to a voidable marriage, the parties to a void marriage may not ratify the union by living together as Husband and Wife. No Divorce or Annulment is required. Nevertheless, parties frequently do seek, and are permitted to seek, such a decree in order to remove any doubt about the validity of the marriage. Unlike a voidable marriage, a void marriage can be challenged even after the death of one or both parties.
In most jurisdictions a bigamous marriage, one involving a person who has a living spouse from an undissolved prior marriage, is void from the outset. In addition, statutes typically prohibit marriage between an ancestor and descendant; between a brother and a sister (whether related by whole blood, half blood, or Adoption); and between an uncle and niece or aunt and nephew.
A judgment entered by a court is void if a court lacks jurisdiction over the parties or subject matter of a lawsuit. A void judgment may be entirely disregarded without a judicial declaration that the judgment is void and differs from an erroneous, irregular, or voidable judgment. In practice, however, an attack on a void judgment is commonly used to make the judgment’s flaw a matter of public record.
A law is considered void on its face if its meaning is so vague that persons of ordinary intelligence must guess at its meaning and may differ as to the statute’s application (Connally v. General Construction Co., 269 U.S. 385, 46 S. Ct. 126, 70 L. Ed. 2d 322 ). due process requires that citizens receive fair notice of what sort of conduct to avoid. For example, a Cincinnati, Ohio, city ordinance made it a criminal offense for three or more persons to assemble on a sidewalk and conduct themselves in a manner that was annoying to passersby. A conviction carried the possibility of a $50 fine and between one and thirty days imprisonment. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the convictions of several persons found guilty of violating the ordinance after a demonstration and picketing (Coates v. Cincinnati, 402 U.S. 611, 91 S. Ct. 1686, 29 L. Ed. 2d 214 ). The Court ruled that the ordinance was unconstitutionally vague because it subjected citizens to an unascertainable standard. Stating that “conduct that annoys some people does not annoy others,” the Court said that the ordinance left citizens to guess at the proper conduct required. The Court noted that the city could lawfully prohibit persons from blocking the sidewalks, littering, obstructing traffic, committing assaults, or engaging in other types of undesirable behavior through “ordinances directed with reasonable specificity toward the conduct to be prohibited.”
in a Finance Dictionary
1. To nullify a contract by means of mutual agreement. 2. To officially abolish a law.
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Maxim of law?
MAXIM of law – Government can only control what it creates. (The power which is derived cannot be greater than that from which it is derived.)
Nature and Natures God is the law and is what gives life to man and his “Rulers” and no legislative rule of a society can prohibit the very thing that gives it life. Legislative “rules” only have force of law, and no rule can take from the very law that gives it force.
U.S. Constitution, Article Six, Clause 2: (The Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution)
“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”
16Am Jur 2d., Const. Law Sec. 256:
“The general rule is that a unconstitutional statute, whether Federal or State, though having the form and name of law as in reality no law, but is wholly void and ineffective for any purpose since unconstitutionality dates from the enactment and not merrily from the date of the decision so braining it. An unconstitutional law in legal contemplation is as inoperative as if it never had been passed. Such a statute lives a question that is purports to settle just as it would be had the statute not ever been enacted. No repeal of an enactment is necessary, since an unconstitutional law is void. The general principles follows that it imposes no duty, converse no rights, creates no office, bestows no power of authority on anyone, affords no protection and justifies no acts performed under it. A contract which rests on a unconstitutional statute creates no obligation to be impaired by subsequent legislation. No one is bound to obey an unconstitutional law. No courts are bound to enforce it. Persons convicted and fined under a statute subsequently held unconstitutional may recover the fines paid. A void act cannot be legally inconsistent with a valid one and an unconstitutional law cannot operate to supersede an existing valid law. Indeed, in so far as a statute runs counter to the fundamental law of the land, it is superseded thereby. Since an unconstitutional statute cannot repeal, or in anyway effect an existing one, if a repealing statute is unconstitutional, the statute which it attempts to repeal, remains in full force and effect and where a statute in which it attempts to repeal remains in full force and effect and where a clause repealing a prior law is inserted in the act, which act is unconstitutional and void, the provision of the repeal of the prior law will usually fall with it and will not be permitted to operate as repealing such prior law. The general principle stated above applied to the constitution as well as the laws of the several states insofar as they are repugnant to the constitution and laws of the United States.”
A broad statement of principle, the truth and reasonableness of which are self-evident. A rule of Equity, the system of justice that complements the Common Law.
Maxims were originally quoted in Latin, and many of the Latin phrases continue to be familiar to lawyers in the early 2000s. The maxims were not written down in an organized code or enacted by legislatures, but they have been handed down through generations of judges. As a result, the wording of a maxim may vary from case to case. For example, it is a general rule that equity does not aid a party at fault. This maxim has been variously expressed:
No one is entitled to the aid of a court of equity when that aid has become necessary through his or her own fault.
Equity does not relieve a person of the consequences of his or her own carelessness.
A court of equity will not assist a person in extricating himself or herself from the circumstances that he or she has created.
Equity will not grant relief from a self-created hardship.
The principles of equity and justice are universal in the common-law courts of the world. They are flexible principles aimed at achieving justice for both sides in each case. No maxim is ever absolute, but all of the principles must be weighed and fitted to the facts of an individual controversy. A rule does not apply when it would produce an unfair result. A party cannot insist that a strict technicality be enforced in his or her favor when it would create an injustice because equity will instead balance the interests of the different parties and the convenience of the public.