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A Manual







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Law Publisher.


Copy Lord St. Leonards' Letter on the First Edition.

BOYLE FARM, November, 1862. DEAR SIR,

I am much obliged to you for the Copy Manual of the Statutes of Limitations you have been good enough to send me. I have not hitherto been partial to tabular views of law, but my objection does not apply to such a subject as descent where the rule is positive and admits of no exception. But a work like yours exhibits labour and accurate statement and cannot fail to be useful, and I wish you every success in your endeavours.

Your obedient servant,




This further encroachment on the patience of a law-abiding and law-purchasing Public has been rendered necessary by the Silent Revolution in the Laws of Property effected by the Act of 1874, which operates from the 1st January, 1879, and is at once the “raison d'être ” of this Edition, and the cause of its Publication. That supine Proprietors may in twelve years, not only have the ground cut from under them, but actually taken away,

is sufficiently startling. Modern Legislation gives increased force to the maxim

" Vigilantibus non dormientibus jura subveniunt.” No one will question the right of the civil authority to limit the remedy it has itself given birth to, when the object in so doing is the public weal.

"Interest rei-publicæ ut sit finis litium." That there are in existence laws affecting so intimately the right to property is of itself sufficient to secure for them the needful attention; yet when it is considered that these laws are scattered over numerous Acts of Parliament, extending so far back as our Edward the First, and that Acts have continued to be passed at intervals down to and including our reigning Queen, the difficulty of a sufficiently comprehensive acquaintance with them is apparent; and this difficulty applies, not only to the private man of property, whose rights are affected by the operation of these laws, but also to the professional man.

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The existence of a want of ready access to these laws, considering the importance of the laws themselves, forms the apology and motive for the following attempt to present such a tabular view of the Limitation Statutes as will render a cursory glance sufficient to answer the point of time within which the right must be asserted.

That property may be made to change hands sub silentio, under the operation of these statutes, is conceived to be sufficient of itself to put owners on their guard, and to justify this attempt to elucidate and make general the acquaintance with these laws.

Ignorantia legis deminem excusat.”

Moreover; possession gave the first right to property; and during the pristine order of things, when

“ Erant omnia communia
“et indivisa omnibus, veluti

unum cunctis patrimonium esset,”

any further recognition or definition of their rights was unrequired. But how, or the mode in which the rights of individuals of a populous community, when civilization has advanced and brought with it the lust of ambition and the pride of conquest, are to be ascertained and delineated, is the province of that civil authority which every community is necessitated to constitute. The prescribed mode of enjoyment which this authority thus modifies comes plainly and clearly within the legislative authority.

But opinion may, and does, widely differ as to the policy of so rigid a curtailment of Periods of Limitation as defined by the recent Act.

The Statutes of Limitation.

It remains to point out one or two anomalies left by the recent Act :-- Actions to redeem by mortgagors must be brought within 12 years, whereas by 1 Vict., c. 28, mortgagees may bring their action within 20 years.

Actions for rent, for which a distress may be made, must be brought within 12


whereas arrears of rent secured by covenant may by 3 & 4 Wm. IV., c. 42, s. 3, be recovered for 20 years.

Of Personal Actions, including Debts on Contract and on Torl.—The Statute of 21 Jas. I., c. 16, is still the governing Statute as to all claims and demands not secured by deed or by “specialty," whereby any sum of money is claimed or damages sought.

It is needful to call pointed attention to the important exception in this Statute, which has been repealed by the recent Act of the 19 & 20 Vict., c. 97, s. 9. I refer to the exception "of such accounts as concern the trade of merchandise between merchant and merchant.”

And also, under the same Statute, by sect. 10, the disabilities of " imprisonment,” and “absence beyond seas,” which prevented the Statute of James from being a bar in such cases, no longer exist; so that the effect of the recent Statute of the Queen is to make more stringent the limitation of six years as the full period within which debts or claims for money or damages must be asserted, and to exclude the period of “ imprisonment,” or

or “absence beyond seas,” from any additional forbearance on account of those two circumstances, which were recognized as disabilities under the Statute of James, and so prevented the Statute running, but which will no longer

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