Arizona, like most states, has statutes of limitations that prevent parties from bringing claims based on the time since the claim arose. These statutes of limitations range from a few months to a decade or more and are set forth in the Arizona Code. In many cases, the parties are aware of the statute of limitations and deliberately wait until shortly after it has expired to bring an action. In such cases, however, the parties and their counsel should consider how the Laches doctrine might affect their claims.
The Laches Doctrine, as described by the Arizona Court of Appeals, is an “unexcusable delay in asserting a right during a period when adverse rights have been acquired in circumstances that make it unfair to substitute such adverse rights in favor of those.” , who are bound by the delay.” In other words, defaults arise when one party delays in asserting its claim in such a way that another party is unfairly disadvantaged. Laches is the equitable equivalent of the statute of limitations, which statutes the statute of limitations on a claim when the delay is unreasonable and the consequence of the delay is to the detriment of the other party.
Of course, Laches does not apply in every case when there is a delay in making a claim. In fact, applying the doctrine too liberally would render statutes of limitations meaningless. But that is not the case.
The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that “laughs may not be attributed to a party for mere delay in asserting a claim.” Instead, the courts require proof that the delay was “unreasonable in the circumstances” and that any change in circumstances caused by the delay resulted in sufficient harm to the other party to justify the denial of relief.
In summary, just because a claim is brought within the statute of limitations does not mean it is timely in Laches’ terms. In the event that you believe that you have a valid legal claim against another party, you should seek the services of an experienced Arizona litigation attorney as soon as possible to defend your claim and ensure that you are not harmed be barred from pursuing the claim under an applicable Arizona statute of limitations or the Arizona Laches Doctrine.