March 15, 2016 Article

Time Does Not Run Against the King — But What About The Prince? When Municipalities Can Assert Nullum Tempus

Under Construction, Vol 17. No 4.

The doctrine of nullum tempus occurrit regi (referred to herein as “nullum tempus”) is a rule that exempts the federal government and most states from general limitations periods.[1] The phrase literally means “no time runs against the king.”

While this rule can result in liability of unlimited duration on federal and certain state projects, it is far less protective to municipalities and political subdivisions, who can only assert the rule in limited circumstances. This article addresses the differing approaches used by the various states to determine whether nullum tempus extends to municipalities and political subdivisions.