la·ches /'la-chəz, 'lā-, -shəz/ n pl laches [Anglo-French lachesce laschesce negligence, from Old French lasche lax, ultimately from Latin laxare to loosen, from laxus slack]
1: undue delay in asserting a right or privilege compare statute of limitations
2 a: a doctrine permitting dismissal of a suit because a plaintiff's unreasonable delay in asserting a right or privilege has been detrimental to the defendant's ability to make a defense (as by resulting in the unavailability of witnesses or evidence)
a suit barred by laches
b: an affirmative defense based on this doctrine

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Law. . 1996.

I noun delay, delay attended by change of position, delay that results in disadvantage, dereliction, dereliction of duty, failure of duty, failure to litigate within reasonable period, improvidence, inattention, inexcusable delay, inexcusable delay in assertion of rights, inobservance, lack of diligence, laggardness, laxity, laxness, laziness, neglect, neglectfulness, negligence, nonfeasance, nonperformance, omission, prejudicial delay, procrastination, remissness, unconscionable delay, undue delay, unexcused delay, unexplained delay, unnecessary prolongation, unreasonable delay, want of duty associated concepts: equity, estoppel by laches, statute of limitations foreign phrases:
- Tern pus enlm modus tollendl obllgationes et actiones, quia tempus currft contra desldes et sul furis contemptores. — For time is a means of dissipating obligations and actions, because time runs against the slothful and careless of their own rights.
- Vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt. — The laws relieve the vigilant and not those who sleep on their rights.
II index neglect

Burton's Legal Thesaurus. . 2006

An unreasonable delay in asserting or enforcing a claim.

The Essential Law Dictionary. — Sphinx Publishing, An imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. . 2008.

based on the Latin maxim vigilantibus non dormientibus jura subveniunt ('the law serves the vigilant, not those who sleep'), a defence of an equitable claim based on the length of time the plaintiff has allowed to elapse before commencing proceedings. 'Where it would be practically unjust to give a remedy, either because the party has, by his conduct, done that which might fairly be regarded as equivalent to a waiver of it, or where by his conduct and neglect he has, though perhaps not waiving that remedy, yet put the other party in a situation in which it would not be reasonable to place him if the remedy were afterwards to be asserted; in either of these cases, lapse of time and delay are material. But in every case, if an argument against relief, which would otherwise be just, is founded upon mere delay, that delay, of course, not amounting to a bar by any statute of limitations, the validity of that defence must be tried upon principles substantially equitable. Two circumstances, always important in such cases, are the length of the delay and the nature of the acts done during the interval, which might affect either party and cause a balance of justice or injustice in taking the course or the other, so far as relates to the remedy.' – Sir Barnes Peacock in Lindsay Petroleum Co. v . Hurd (1874) LR 5 PC 221 at 239–240.

Collins dictionary of law. . 2001.

A legal defense to a claim for equitable relief asserting that the plaintiff's long delay in bringing the claim has prejudiced the defendant (as a sort of legal ambush). For example, if a homeowner watches while the neighbor builds a house over their property line, and only then brings a suit to have the house removed, the encroaching neighbor may raise the defense of laches. Don't confuse laches with "statutes of limitations," which set forth specific periods of time within which plaintiffs must file certain types of lawsuits.
Category: Small Claims Court & Lawsuits

Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary. . 2009.

n. Equitable doctrine that precludes or limits relief to one who delays in acting or bringing a claim.

Webster's New World Law Dictionary. . 2000.

A defense to an equitable action, that bars recovery by the plaintiff because of the plaintiff's undue delay in seeking relief.

Dictionary from West's Encyclopedia of American Law. 2005.

A defense to an equitable action, that bars recovery by the plaintiff because of the plaintiff's undue delay in seeking relief.

Short Dictionary of (mostly American) Legal Terms and Abbreviations.

   the legal doctrine that a legal right or claim will not be enforced or allowed if a long delay in asserting the right or claim has prejudiced the adverse party (hurt the opponent) as a sort of "legal ambush." Examples: a) knowing the correct property line, Oliver Owner fails to bring a lawsuit to establish title to a portion of real estate until Nat Neighbor has built a house which encroaches on the property in which Owner has title; b) Tommy Traveler learns that his father has died, but waits four years to come forward until the entire estate has been distributed on the belief that Tommy was dead; c) Susan Smart has a legitimate claim against her old firm for sexual harassment, but waits three years to come forward and file a lawsuit, after the employee who caused the problem has died, and the witnesses have all left the company and scattered around the country. The defense of laches is often raised in the list of "affirmative defenses" in answers filed by defendants, but is seldom applied by the courts. Laches is not to be confused with the "statute of limitations," which sets specific periods to file a lawsuit for types of claims (negligence, breach of contract, fraud, etc.).

Law dictionary. . 2013.

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Laches — Laches, Sohn des Melanopos, athen. Feldherr, wurde 427 v. Chr. nebst Charöades mit einer Flotte nach Sizilien gesandt, um Leontinoi und die mit ihm verbündeten übrigen chalkidisch ionischen Staaten gegen Syrakus zu unterstützen. Als Charöades 426 …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

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  • Lachès — Le Lachès (ou Sur le courage) est un dialogue de Platon. Il appartient à la série dite des « Premiers Dialogues », composés à l’époque où l’auteur était encore jeune. Le dialogue, dont l’authenticité ne fait aucun doute, est censé se… …   Wikipédia en Français

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