Local Government Law: When the Law You Know Isn’t the Law that Applies

Andrew R. McRoberts authored the sole article featured in the most recent Journal of Local Government Law, entitled “Local Government Law: When the Law You Know Isn’t the Law that Applies”. The article was published in Volume XXIX, No. 2, the Winter 2019 edition of the publication with a foreword by Justice Stephen R. McCullough.

Article abstract

Even experienced lawyers may find they need to learn some key legal principals when first encountering local government law as some aspects of that law are counterintuitive, with origins from our days as a British colony. Legal principles that normally apply in nongovernmental cases may not apply at all, or very differently, when local government is a party.

This article offers guideposts to those in need of a quick roadmap to this unique body of Virginia law. This article is intended to help members of the bar who infrequently practice local government law. It may also assist honorable members of the judiciary who do not regularly hear these types of cases in knowing when to expect the unexpected. And it may provide a few refreshers for even the experienced practitioner of local government law.

Topics covered include:

  • Sovereign Immunity
  • Equitable Defenses
  • Adverse Possession
  • Suing the Sovereign
  • The Dillon Rule
  • Tax Authority & Assessments
  • Public Finance
  • Statutory Causes of Action and the Nonsuit Statute


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