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A method of acquiring a nonpossessory interest in land through the long, continuous use of the land.

Prescription refers to a type of easement—the right to use the property of another. It requires the use of the land to have been open, continuous, exclusive, and under claim of right for the appropriate statutory period. It differs from Adverse Possession in that adverse possession entails the acquisition of title to the property, whereas prescription relates to a right to use the property of another that is consistent with the rights of the owner.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


n. the method of acquiring an easement upon another's real property by continued and regular use without permission of the property owner for a period of years required by the law of the state (commonly five years or more). Examples: Phillip Packer drives across the corner of Ralph Roundup's ranch to reach Packer's barn regularly for a period of ten years; for a decade Ralph Retailer uses the alley back of Marjorie Howard's house to reach his storeroom. In each case the result is a "prescriptive easement" for that specific use. It effectively gives the user an easement for use but not ownership of the property. (See: prescriptive easement)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.


the process of acquiring rights, immunities or obligations as a result of the passage of time. Prescription is founded on the idea that a person who has enjoyed quiet and uninterrupted possession of something for a long period of years is supposed to have a just right, without which he would not have been allowed to continue in enjoyment of it. In particular, easements and profits maybe acquired by prescription if enjoyed without interruption for the appropriate length of time (usually 20 years in the case of easements and 30 years in the case of profits). Prescription may be:
  1. (1) under the common law rules,
  2. (2) under the doctrine of lost modern grant, or
  3. (3) under the provisions of the Prescription Act 1832.

In Scotland the word is used in a similar way in relation to the acquisition of rights. The positive prescription in Scotland is ten years. It allows a person who has possessed land openly, peaceably and without interruption on the strength of an ex facie valid recorded title covering the land in question, to obtain a good title to it. In cases of the acquisition of servitude rights or rights in the foreshore or salmon fishings, the positive prescription is 20 years. In Scotland the word prescription is used in a negative sense of shutting off stale claims in a way very similar to that sense denoted by the word limitation in England. Limitation was not a native Scottish concept. Thus, there is a five-year short-negative prescription that cuts off very many claims - the most significant being mostly claims for damages or payment with the exception of claims for personal injuries, which are dealt with by way of limitation. The main difference between prescription and limitation is that limitation must be pled whereas prescription operates by law and can be noticed by the court. There is in addition a long-negative prescription of 20 years, which shuts off claims not already closed by the limitation period or the short negative prescription or a category of obligation known as imprescriptible, the most significant of which are obligations under solemn deeds and the obligations of a trustee in respect of trust property. See also LATENT DAMAGE, LIMITATION, PRODUCT LIABILITY.

Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

PRESCRIPTION. The manner of acquiring property by a long, honest, and uninterrupted possession or use during the time required by law. The possession must have been possessio longa, continua, et pacifica, nec sit ligitima interruptio, long, continued, peaceable, and without lawful interruption. Domat, Loix Civ. liv. 3, t. 29, s. 1; Bract. 52, 222, 226; Co. Litt. 113, b; Pour pouvoir prescire, says the Code Civil, 1. 3, t. 20, art. 22, 29, il faut une possession continue et non interrompue, paisible, publique, et a titre de proprietaire. See Knapp's R. 79.
     2. The law presumes a grant before the time of legal memory when the party claiming by prescription, or those from whom he holds, have had adverse or uninterrupted possession of the property or rights claimed by prescription. This presumption may be a mere fiction, the commencement of the user being tortious; no prescription can, however, be sustained, which is not consistent with such a presumption.
     3. Twenty years uninterrupted user of a way is prima facie evidence of a prescriptive right. 1 Saund. 323, a; 10 East, 476; 2 Br. & Bing. 403; Cowp. 215; 2 Wils. 53. The subject of prescription are the several kinds of incorporeal rights. Vide, generally, 2 Chit. Bl. 35, n. 24; Amer. Jurist, No. 37, p. 96; 17 Vin. Ab. 256; 7 com. Dig. 93; Rutherf. Inst. 63; Co. Litt. 113; 2 Conn. R. 584; 9 conn. R. 162; Bouv. Inst. Index, h.t.
     4. The Civil Code Louisiana, art. 3420, defines a prescription to be a manner of acquiring property, or of discharging debts, by the effect of time, and under the conditions regulated by law. For the law relating to prescription in that state, see Code, art. 8420 to 3521. For the difference between the meaning of the term prescription as understood by the common law, and the same term in the civil law, see 1 Bro. Civ. Law, 246.
     5. The prescription which has the effect to liberate a creditor, is a mere bar which the debtor may oppose to the creditor, who has neglected to exercise his rights, or procured them to be acknowledged during the time prescribed by law. The debtor acquires this right without any act on his part, it results entirely from the negligence of the creditor. The prescription does not extinguish the debt, it merely places a bar in the hands of the debtor, which he may use or not at his choice against the creditor. The debtor may therefore abandon this defence, which has been acquired by mere lapse of time, either by paying the debt, or acknowledging it. If he pay it, he cannot recover back the money so paid, and if he acknowledge it, he may be constrained to pay it. Poth. Intr. au titre xiv. des Prescriptions, Bect. 2. Vide Bouv. Inst. Theo. pars prima, c. 1, art. 1, Sec. 4, s. 3; Limitations.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
They, therefore, indicated the need to develop a standard prescription policy at the hospital to help in reducing medication errors.
For those of us in our middle years, prescriptions cost PS8.80 each, but from April 1, this is set to rise to PS9.
Apart from these, problems with regard to prescription writing (stemming from reasons such as absence of some desired medicines on the system or not being able to prescribe them; not being able to correct, add, delete after the prescription has been sent; absence of some medicines, medicine dosages or diagnosis in the system) were among the most common complaints.
The number of prescriptions has increased 2.1 times since 2013/14, when there were 12,521 prescriptions, or one for every 13.6 men.
Across England as a whole, there were 3.3 million Sildenafil prescriptions in the 12 months to May this year.
A study appearing in the Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences, titled 'Prescription Patterns of General Practitioners in Peshawar' shows that of the 1,097 prescriptions studied from six major hospitals and pharmacies, not a single contained all the essential components of a prescription.
As most prescribing errors are caused by the interns and freshly graduated junior doctors, improving the undergraduate education and raising awareness to avoid prescription errors is very important.
In using the tool, consumers enter their zip code, the names and dosages of their prescribed medications, and the name of their current Medicare Part D plan or Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan.
Since 2005, FamilyWize has helped over 10 million Americans live healthier lives by saving them more than $1 billion on life-saving prescription drugs.
Certain rules should be strictly followed while writing prescription for benefit of patient and also to avoid medico-legal problems.
COUNTING COST DURHAM DALES, EASINGTON AND SEDGEFIELDTotal prescription cost: PS4,997,548 Number of prescriptions: 320,700 SUNDERLAND Total prescription cost: PS4,431,488 Number of prescriptions: 288,482 NORTHUMBERLAND Total prescription cost: PS4,290,627 Number of prescriptions: 280,038NORTH DURHAMTotal prescription cost: PS4,095,310 Number of prescriptions: 216,048 NORTH TYNESIDE Total prescription cost: PS2,992,762 Number of prescriptions: 180,254 GATESHEAD Total prescription cost: PS2,562,039 Number of prescriptions: 182,042 SOUTH TYNESIDE Total prescription cost: PS2,541,370 Number of prescriptions: 137,954 NEWCASTLE WEST Total prescription cost: PS1,848,476 Number of prescriptions: 134,928 NEWCASTLE NORTH AND EAST Total prescription cost: PS1,655,288 Number of prescriptions: 103,047