THE COMPARATIVE LEGAL HISTORY OF LIMITATION AND PRESCRIPTION
Keywords:acquiring and losing rights, limitation and prescription, negligence of the claimant
Within both the civil law and the common law (as well as in mixed legal systems), there are means of acquiring and losing rights, or of freeing ourselves from obligations with the passage of time. The reason for this is at least twofold: on the one hand, for a claimant, a dispossessed owner or a creditor, limitation and prescription provide stimuli for bringing the action; on the other, this sanction upon the negligence of the claimant implies in many cases a windfall for the defendant. If a creditor is negligent in protecting his assets, the law at a certain stage no longer protects him or her. As Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. said aptly some 100 years ago: “Sometimes it is said that, if a man neglects to enforce his rights, he cannot complain if, after a while, the law follows his example”.
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