LINDSAY PETROLEUM COMPANY V HURD: 1873
Citation: (1874) LR 5 PC 221,  5 AC 221
Coram: Sir Barnes Peacock, Lord Selbourne LC
The court discussed the basis of the equitable doctrine of laches.
Lord Selbourne LC said: ‘Now the doctrine of laches in courts of equity is not an arbitrary or technical doctrine. 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 most material. But in every case if an argument against relief which otherwise would 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 substantial equitable. Two circumstances, always important in such case, 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 one course or the other, so far as relates to the remedy.’