Prescription Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Prescription, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Prescription?

It is a type or method of acquiring property which is owned by someone else, by the way of using the land for a long and continuous specified period legally, thereby legally enforceable as well.That’s is also known as positive prescription. A negative prescription is a limitation of time after which the crime is not legally enforceable.

History and Meaning of Prescription

Prescription is a legal term that refers to the acquisition of a property interest through continuous and uninterrupted use of that property for a specified period of time. The idea behind prescription is that if someone uses a piece of land for a long enough period of time without anyone objecting, they should be rewarded with legal ownership of that land.

The concept of prescription can be traced back to Roman law, where it was known as usucapio. This practice was later adopted by European legal systems and eventually found its way into the United States legal system.

Examples of Prescription

  1. If a person continuously and openly uses a piece of land for 10 years or more, they may be able to establish a prescription claim to that land.

  2. A person who openly and continuously uses their neighbor's driveway as their own for 20 years may be able to establish a prescription claim to the right to use that driveway.

  3. A person who uses a river to irrigate their crops for 15 years may be able to establish a prescription claim to the right to use the water from that river.

Legal Terms Similar to Prescription

Adverse possession: This is the common law version of prescription. Adverse possession occurs when a person occupies a piece of land for a certain period of time without permission from the owner, and the owner does not take any legal action to remove them.

Statute of limitations: This is a legal time limit within which a lawsuit must be filed. Prescription is similar in that it involves a time limit after which a legal claim cannot be made.

Easement by prescription: This is a type of easement that is acquired by using someone else's property for a specified period of time without permission, similar to prescription.