In commencing a suit or criminal matter before a competent Court of law, one of several technical and preliminary issues to consider is the concept of STATUTE OF LIMITATION. What does this mean?
A Statute of Limitation is a law passed by the legislature which sets the time frame within legal proceedings may be initiated. Where this time frame prescribed by a statute elapses or expires, the Court no longer has jurisdiction; the Court’s power to handle such matter would equally expire.
Under various Limitation laws of different States of the Nigerian federation, certain civil actions have their respective lifespans within which they must be instituted.
In better particulars, the applicable law places a maximum period of time during which an action can be brought to Court for redress and failure to bring such action within this stipulated period shuts the door at the party to institute such action. When such happens, the action is said to be statute-barred.
On how the Courts determine whether an action is statute-barred, the excerpted dictum below proves instructive:
⚖ Litigaship Series ⚖
Determining whether an action is statute-barred
” _Court will look at the *writ of summons or statement of claim or affidavit* (in an action not commenced by a writ) which show cases when the cause of action accrued. It has to situate it with the time when the action was filed. If the date of filing is beyond that provided in the limitation law, then it is statute-barred._ ”
– INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC) v. OGBADIBO LOCAL GOVERNMENT COUNCIL & ORS (2014) AELR 3446 (CA)
In conclusion, consulting a competent lawyer as soon as you enter into any legal or contractual arrangement is indispensable. The dicey situation of an aggrieved party to a suit or criminal matter losing his right to seek justice before a competent Court of Law is certainly avoidable.
A competent lawyer prevents legal accidents and misfortune.
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