Doctrine of laches based upon grounds of public policy

Laches means the failure or neglect for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time to do that which, by exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier; it is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting the presumption that the party entitled to assert it either has abandoned or declined to assert it. It has also been defined as such neglect or omission to assert a right taken in conjunction with the lapse of time and other circumstances causing prejudice to an adverse party, as will operate as a bar in equity. The principle of laches is a creation of equity which, as such, is applied not really to penalize neglect or sleeping upon ones right, but rather to avoid recognizing a right when to do so would result in a clearly inequitable situation. As an equitable defense, laches does not concern itself with the character of the defendants title, but only with whether or not by reason of the plaintiffs long inaction or inexcusable neglect, he should be barred from asserting this claim at all, because to allow him to do so would be inequitable and unjust to the defendant. The doctrine of laches or of stale demands is based upon grounds of public policy which requires, for the peace of society, the discouragement of stale claims and x x x is principally a question of the inequity or unfairness of permitting a right or claim to be enforced or asserted. [G.R. No. 112519. November 14, 1996]

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