When an obligor has breached a contract, the obligee has the right to sue in court for a remedy. But that right does not last forever. Every state has statutes of limitations that establish time periods within which the suit must be brought (different time periods are spelled out for different types of legal wrongs: contract breach, various types of torts, and so on). The time period for contract actions under most statutes of limitations ranges between two and six years. The UCC has a four-year statute of limitations. 1 The period begins to run from the day on which the suit could have been filed in court—for example, from the moment of contract breach. An obligee who waits until after the statute has run—that is, does not seek legal relief within the period prescribed by the statute of limitations—is barred from going to court thereafter (unless she is under some incapacity like infancy), but the obligor is not thereby discharged. The effect is simply that the obligee has no legal remedy. If the parties have a continuing relationship, the obligee might be able to recoup—for example, by applying a payment for another debt to the one barred by the statute, or by offsetting a debt the obligee owes to the obligor.
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Statute of Limitations