2021 Georgia Code
Title 9 - Civil Practice
Chapter 3 - Limitations of Actions
Article 1 - General Provisions
§ 9-3-1. Limitations Against the State

Universal Citation: GA Code § 9-3-1 (2021)

Except as otherwise provided by law, the state shall be barred from bringing an action if, under the same circumstances, a private person would be barred.

(Ga. L. 1855-56, p. 233, § 38; Code 1873, § 2925a; Code 1882, § 2925a; Civil Code 1895, § 3777; Civil Code 1910, § 4371; Code 1933, § 3-715.)

Law reviews.

- For article, "Statutes of Limitations: Counterproductive Complexities," see 37 Mercer L. Rev. 1 (1985).


This section changed common-law rule enunciated in Brinsfield v. Carter, 2 Ga. 143 (1847), and must be strictly construed. Georgia R.R. & Banking v. Wright, 124 Ga. 496, 53 S.E. 251 (1906), rev'd on other grounds, 207 U.S. 127, 28 S. Ct. 47, 52 L. Ed. 134 (1907).

Effect of section on legislative powers.

- Legislative powers, including granting of a license by a municipality, cannot be abridged by this section. City Council v. Burum & Co., 93 Ga. 68, 19 S.E. 820, 26 L.R.A. 340 (1893).

Prescription does not run against state. Kirschner v. Western & A.R.R., 67 Ga. 760 (1881); Dean v. Feely, 69 Ga. 804 (1883).

This section applies to counties. MacNeill v. McElroy, 193 Ga. 55, 17 S.E.2d 169 (1941).

Action to recover money illegally drawn from treasury.

- Former Civil Code 1910, § 4371 (see now O.C.G.A. § 9-3-1) rendered former Civil Code 1910, § 4362 (see now O.C.G.A. § 9-3-25) applicable to action by county to recover money illegally drawn from the treasury. Swords v. Walker, 141 Ga. 450, 81 S.E. 235 (1914).

In action brought by county to recover fees paid to probate court judge by mutual mistake, this section applies. McAlpin v. Chatham County, 26 Ga. App. 695, 107 S.E. 74 (1921).

Payday lending litigation governed by statute of limitations.

- Supreme Court of Georgia is not persuaded that the Georgia legislature intended the period of limitation for bringing an enforcement action pursuant to the Payday Lending Act, O.C.G.A. § 16-17-1 et seq., to be governed by the one-year limitation period for forfeiture actions pursuant to the usury laws; instead, the Court concludes the remedies set forth in the Payday Lending Act are governed by the 20-year statute of limitation set forth in O.C.G.A. § 9-3-1. W. Sky Fin., LLC v. State of Ga. ex rel. Olens, 300 Ga. 340, 793 S.E.2d 357 (2016).

Cited in Wooten v. State ex rel. Bagby, 118 Ga. App. 366, 163 S.E.2d 870 (1968).


Am. Jur. 2d.

- 51 Am. Jur. 2d, Limitation of Actions, § 85.


- 54 C.J.S., Limitations of Actions, §§ 31, 55.


- Statute limiting duration of lien, or life, of judgment, or revival thereof, as applicable to judgment in favor of state or political units thereof, 118 A.L.R. 929.

Liquidation or other proceeding by government against bank or other corporation, as suspending statute of limitations as regards choses in action belonging to corporation, or stockholder's superadded liability, 122 A.L.R. 945.

When statute of limitation commences to run against action to recover tax, 131 A.L.R. 822.

Running of limitation as to action by public body against officer or employee as deferred until defendant ceases to be officer or employee, or until the end of his term of office or employment, 137 A.L.R. 674.

Limitation applicable to action for consequential damage as result of taking or damaging of property for public use, 139 A.L.R. 1288.

Limitation of time for collection or enforcement of succession, estate, or inheritance tax, 139 A.L.R. 1397.

Limitation statute applicable to action on bonds of public body or on obligation to collect revenues for their payment, 38 A.L.R.2d 930.

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