Limitation & Estoppel are entirely different things. Though the operation of each is to prevent a party from asserting his right at law. In the case of limitation by shutting out a suit & in the case of estoppel by shutting out evidence.

Limitation is a rule of procedural law whereas estoppel is a rule of evidence. Limitation comes into operation merely because of the passivity of the plaintiff is not asserting his rights quickly enough. It is not necessary to avail defence of limitation that there should have been any acts or representation done or made by other party.

Estoppel on the other hand arises by reason of some act, statement or omission intentionally made by a party. Estoppel may apply to either party. A defendant may be estopped from raising a particular defence, as much as a plaintiff. Limitation however generally applies to plaintiff i.e it can be pleaded against plaintiff.


Law of limitation is an adjective or procedural law. It neither creates nor extinguishes any right. On the expiry of period of limitation the remedy is barred but the right subsists whereas law of prescription prescribes the period at the expiry of which not only the judicial remedy is barred but a substantive right is extinguished by one & acquired by another.

It is therefore said that law of limitation is a species of prescription or an imperfect prescription. Prescription is acquisition of title by possession of property for the prescribed period provided that possession was neither forcible nor hidden nor permissive.

S. 27 is extinctive prescription where S. 25 is acquisitive prescription. Where prescription bars the remedy & extinguishes the right of holder, it is known as extinctive prescription. Where prescription not only bars the remedy & extinguishes the right but also in addition, transfers the right of the original holder to the opposing claimant, the claimant acquires a title against the whole world. This is known as acquisitive prescription.

Prescription has to be distinguished from mere occupation. A thing which has no owners in law is ‘res nullius’ & may be acquired by simple occupation which is to be distinguished from prescription. No length of time is necessary to complete the title to a thing not owned by anybody and there can be no question of competing claims or adverse possession in such circumstances. While limitation is based on public policy, prescription is based on usage.


It is said that law of limitation is lex fori- means the law of forum of court i.e. law of limitation of country in which the suit is brought.

The law of limitation being a rule of law “domestic policy”. The courts are justified in declining to enforce an obligation barred by the statute although it may still be enforceable according to some foreign law of limitation.

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