Pleading

Pleading

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In law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 as practiced in countries that follow the English models, a pleading is a formal written statement filed with a court
Court
A court is a form of tribunal, often a governmental institution, with the authority to adjudicate legal disputes between parties and carry out the administration of justice in civil, criminal, and administrative matters in accordance with the rule of law...

 by parties in a civil action, other than a motion. By stating what claims and defences are at issue, pleadings establish the issues to be decided by the court.

Pleading in England and Wales
Pleading (England and Wales)
Pleading in England and Wales is covered by the Civil Procedure Rules .Formal proceedings should be preceded by an initial exchange of correspondence in accordance with the...

 is covered by the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR).

Pleading in United States federal courts
Pleading (United States)
Pleading in United States Federal courts is governed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.According to , only these pleadings are allowed:#a complaint;#an answer to a complaint;#an answer to a counterclaim designated as a counterclaim;...

 is covered by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure govern civil procedure in United States district courts. The FRCP are promulgated by the United States Supreme Court pursuant to the Rules Enabling Act, and then the United States Congress has 7 months to veto the rules promulgated or they become part of the...

.

Pleading in the courts of the individual states is covered by the rules of civil procedure either promulgated by the respective state Supreme Courts, or by statute by the respective legislatures.

Examples of pleadings


In the United States, a complaint
Complaint
In legal terminology, a complaint is a formal legal document that sets out the facts and legal reasons that the filing party or parties In legal terminology, a complaint is a formal legal document that sets out the facts and legal reasons (see: cause of action) that the filing party or parties In...

is the first pleading filed by a plaintiff
Plaintiff
A plaintiff , also known as a claimant or complainant, is the term used in some jurisdictions for the party who initiates a lawsuit before a court...

 which initiates a lawsuit. A complaint sets forth the relevant allegations of fact that give rise to one or more legal causes of action along with a prayer for relief
Prayer for relief
A prayer for relief, in the law of civil procedure, is a portion of a complaint in which the plaintiff describes the remedies that the plaintiff seeks from the court. For example, the plaintiff may ask for an award of compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney's fees, an injunction to make...

 and sometimes an ad quod damnum
Ad quod damnum
Ad quod damnum or ad damnum is a Latin phrase meaning "According to the harm" or "appropriate to the harm." It is used in tort law as a measure of damage inflicted, and implying a remedy, if one exists, ought to correspond specifically and only to the damage suffered. It is also used in pleading,...

 clause. In some situations, a complaint is called a petition, in which case the party filing it is called the petitioner
Petitioner
A petitioner is a person who pleads with governmental institution for a legal remedy or a redress of grievances, through use of a petition.-In the courts:The petitioner may seek a legal remedy if the state or another private person has acted unlawfully...

 and the other party is the respondent
Respondent
A respondent is a person who is called upon to issue a response to a communication made by another. In legal usage, this specifically refers to the defendant in a legal proceeding commenced by a petition, or to an appellee, or the opposing party, in an appeal of a decision by an initial fact-finder...

. In equity, sometimes called chancery, the initial pleading may be called either a petition or a bill of complaint in chancery.

In England and Wales, the first pleading is a Claim Form, issued under either Part 7 or Part 8 of the Civil Procedure Rules, which sets out the nature of the action and the relief sought, and may give brief particulars of the claim. The Claimant also has the option, under Practice Direction 7A.61 to serve Particulars of Claim (a document setting out the allegations which found the cause of action) within 14 days of issue of the Claim Form.

When used in civil proceedings in England and Wales, the term "complaint" refers to the mechanism by which civil proceedings are instituted in the magistrates' court and may be either written or oral.

A demurrer
Demurrer
A demurrer is a pleading in a lawsuit that objects to or challenges a pleading filed by an opposing party. The word demur means "to object"; a demurrer is the document that makes the objection...

is a pleading filed by a defendant
Defendant
A defendant or defender is any party who is required to answer the complaint of a plaintiff or pursuer in a civil lawsuit before a court, or any party who has been formally charged or accused of violating a criminal statute...

 which objects to the legal sufficiency of a complaint. At common law, the demurrer was the only pleading which in itself required an immediate ruling on its content from the court, and which was capable of immediately disposing of a case, with the inevitable result that demurrer practice came to resemble motion practice. Many common law jurisdictions therefore went to a narrower understanding of pleadings as framing the issues in a case but not being motions in and of themselves, and replaced the demurrer with the motion to dismiss for failure to state a cause of action or the application to strike out particulars of claim.

An answer is a pleading filed by a defendant which admits or denies the specific allegations set forth in a complaint and constitutes a general appearance by a defendant. In England and Wales, the equivalent pleading is called a Defence .

A defendant
Defendant
A defendant or defender is any party who is required to answer the complaint of a plaintiff or pursuer in a civil lawsuit before a court, or any party who has been formally charged or accused of violating a criminal statute...

 may also file a cross-complaint or third-party complaint as well to bring other parties into a case by the process of impleader
Impleader
Impleader is a procedural device before trial in which one party joins a third party into a lawsuit because that third party is liable to an original defendant...

.

A defendant
Defendant
A defendant or defender is any party who is required to answer the complaint of a plaintiff or pursuer in a civil lawsuit before a court, or any party who has been formally charged or accused of violating a criminal statute...

 may file a counter-claim to raise a cause of action to defend, reduce or set off the claim of the plaintiff
Plaintiff
A plaintiff , also known as a claimant or complainant, is the term used in some jurisdictions for the party who initiates a lawsuit before a court...

.

Common law pleading


Common law pleading was the system of civil procedure
Civil procedure
Civil procedure is the body of law that sets out the rules and standards that courts follow when adjudicating civil lawsuits...

 used in England, which early on developed a strong emphasis on the form of action
Form of action
The forms of action were the different procedures by which a legal claim could be made in the early history of the English common law. While in modern English law, as in most other legal systems, the focus is on the substance underlying an action, such as the existence of a legal right, in the...

 rather than the cause of action
Cause of action
In the law, a cause of action is a set of facts sufficient to justify a right to sue to obtain money, property, or the enforcement of a right against another party. The term also refers to the legal theory upon which a plaintiff brings suit...

 (as a result of the Provisions of Oxford
Provisions of Oxford
The Provisions of Oxford are often regarded as England's first written constitution ....

, which severely limited the evolution of the common law writ system). The emphasis was on procedure over substance.

Even worse, law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 and equity evolved as separate judicial systems, each with its own procedures and remedies. Because the list of types of claims eligible for consideration was capped early during the development of the English legal system, claims that might have been acceptable to the courts' evolving sense of justice often did not match up perfectly with any of the established forms of action. Lawyers had to engage in great ingenuity to shoehorn their clients' claims into existing forms of action.

Code pleading


Code pleading was first introduced in 1850 in New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 and in 1872 in California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, and eventually spread to 22 other states. Code pleading sought to abolish the distinction between law and equity. It unified civil procedure for all types of actions as much as possible. The focus shifted from pleading the right form of action (that is, the right procedure) to pleading the right cause of action (that is, a substantive right to be enforced by the law). Under code pleading, the required elements of each action are supposed to be set out in carefully codified statutes.

Code pleading required the pleading of "ultimate facts." This means that to plead a cause of action, the pleader has to plead each element and also allege specific facts which, if proven with evidence at trial, would constitute proof of that element. Failure to provide such detail could lead to dismissal of the case if the defendant successfully demurred
Demurrer
A demurrer is a pleading in a lawsuit that objects to or challenges a pleading filed by an opposing party. The word demur means "to object"; a demurrer is the document that makes the objection...

 to the complaint on the basis that it merely stated "legal conclusions" or "evidentiary facts."

Code pleading was criticized because many lawyers felt that it was too difficult to fully research all the facts needed to bring a complaint before one had even initiated the action, and thus meritorious plaintiffs could not bring their complaints in time before the statute of limitations expired. Code pleading has also been criticized as promoting "hypertechnical reading of legal papers".

Notice pleading


Notice pleading is the dominant form of pleading used in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 today. In 1938, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure govern civil procedure in United States district courts. The FRCP are promulgated by the United States Supreme Court pursuant to the Rules Enabling Act, and then the United States Congress has 7 months to veto the rules promulgated or they become part of the...

 were adopted. One goal of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure govern civil procedure in United States district courts. The FRCP are promulgated by the United States Supreme Court pursuant to the Rules Enabling Act, and then the United States Congress has 7 months to veto the rules promulgated or they become part of the...

 was to relax the strict rules of code pleading.

Fact pleading


Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

, a state that derives its legal tradition from the Spanish and French (as opposed to English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 common law
Common law
Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action...

), employs a system of fact pleading wherein it is only necessary to plead the facts that give rise to a cause of action. It is not necessary even for the petitioner to identify the cause of action being pleaded. Mere conclusory allegations such as "the defendant was negligent" are not, by themselves, sufficient to sustain a cause of action.

Alternative pleading


In alternative pleading
Alternative pleading
Alternative pleading permits a party in a court action to argue multiple possibilities that may be mutually exclusive by making use of legal fiction....

,
legal fiction
Legal fiction
A legal fiction is a fact assumed or created by courts which is then used in order to apply a legal rule which was not necessarily designed to be used in that way...

 is employed to permit a party to argue two mutually exclusive
Mutually exclusive
In layman's terms, two events are mutually exclusive if they cannot occur at the same time. An example is tossing a coin once, which can result in either heads or tails, but not both....

 possibilities, for example, submitting an injury complaint alleging that the harm to the plaintiff caused by the defendant was so outrageous that it must have either been intended as a malicious attack or, if not, must have been due to gross negligence.

See also

  • motion (legal)
    Motion (legal)
    In law, a motion is a procedural device to bring a limited, contested issue before a court for decision. A motion may be thought of as a request to the judge to make a decision about the case. Motions may be made at any point in administrative, criminal or civil proceedings, although that right is...

  • motion for leave
    Motion for leave
    A motion for leave is a motion filed with the court seeking permission to deviate from an established rule or procedure of the court.The most common use of a motion for leave is to seek an extension to an already-passed timeframe....

  • prima facie
    Prima facie
    Prima facie is a Latin expression meaning on its first encounter, first blush, or at first sight. The literal translation would be "at first face", from the feminine form of primus and facies , both in the ablative case. It is used in modern legal English to signify that on first examination, a...

  • general denial
    General denial
    In pleading, a general denial is a denial that relates to all allegations which are not otherwise pleaded to. Many legal systems provide that in a statement of defense, any allegation made by the plaintiff which is not traversed is deemed to have been admitted by the defendants...

  • negative pregnant
    Negative pregnant
    A negative pregnant refers to a denial which implies its affirmative opposite by seeming to deny only a qualification of the allegation and not the allegation itself...

  • further and better particulars
    Further and better particulars
    In pleading, further and better particulars refers to additional information required to provide sufficient accuracy with respect to a set of pleaded facts in an earlier document. The party who believes that the facts are insufficiently pleaded will issue a request for further and better...