A statute that establishes a time limit for bringing a civil suit. The general purpose of a statute of limitations is to encourage timely prosecution or pursuit of claims. Such laws ensure that claims will be resolved while evidence is still reasonably available and the memories of the parties involved in a claim are still fresh. Statutes of limitation also supply limits of time for criminal prosecutions. Once the statute of limitations has expired, the wronged party can no longer file suit or take legal action, which it previously could have taken to enforce the obligation.