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Statute of limitations

Common law legal systems can include a statute specifying the length of time within which a claimant or prosecutor must file a case. In some civil jurisdictions (e.g., California),[ a case cannot begin after the period specified, and courts have no jurisdiction over cases filed after the statute of limitations has expired. In some other jurisdictions (e.g., New South WalesAustralia), a claim can be filed which may prove to have been brought outside the limitations period, but the court will retain jurisdiction in order to determine that issue, and the onus is on the defendant to plead it as part of their defence, or else the claim will not be statute barred.

Once filed, cases do not need to be resolved within the period specified in the statute of limitations.