justice-smiles-green-large.pngLaches, very similar to Estoppel in Pais, is an equitable doctrine and as such it also garners my disdain. The reason for this is that it is a sloppy doctrine which is often tucked into a claim or answer in order to preserve a case that otherwise ought to be aborted.

Laches is the assertion that a party has been so dilatory (i.e. slow to act) in a situation for which diligence under law would require action that it is unfair to the other party.

Bewildered? Well, sorting out the definition of this balderdash is much easier than its application.

Basically, it means: “Hey, the guy or gal ought to have known about this issue a good long time before they ever brought a claim for it. Because of this [Your Honor], they “should not now be heard to complain” (i.e. do anything about it).

This is where it gets “curiouser and curioser.” Almost without fail, Laches will be thrown into a claim that includes Adverse Possession. And Adverse Possession is a doctrine which is considered to be composed of both “law and fact.” I suppose this means that Adverse Possession can be construed to include both legal and equitable doctrines.

But, remind me once again of that definition of Laches – didn’t it say something about “law would [have otherwise] require[d] action?” Why yes it did! – We’re not fooled by the definitional obfuscation. And if there is one component upon which Adverse Possession clearly stands on the side of law – as opposed to the side of equity – it is in its temporal definition of the Statutory Period.

Law has already defined the timeline! – Equity should not be allowed to second guess that! In other words, any attorney that looks to Laches ought to quit their bellyachin’ and simply figure out what the law of Adverse Possession says about the allowed time. End of story!

In my humble oppinion, the lawyer that is using this doctrine – quite likely the one that also spit out the claim of Estoppel in Pais – is very likely working out of a broom closet and was too stupid to excise this line from his template; he or she doesn’t know much, if anything, about boundary dispute law; or both.

My advice – find someone who knows the law in this area and get a second opinion before you find yourself $50K+ into a high flyin’ matter without a parachute.justice-smiles-green.png