Define: Abuse Of Process

Abuse Of Process
Abuse Of Process
Quick Summary of Abuse Of Process

Abuse of process refers to the misuse or manipulation of legal procedures or court processes for improper purposes, such as harassment, intimidation, or gaining an unfair advantage in litigation. It involves actions taken by a party in a legal proceeding that go beyond the legitimate pursuit of their rights or interests and instead aim to pervert or obstruct the course of justice. Examples of abuse of process include filing frivolous or vexatious lawsuits, making baseless legal motions to delay proceedings, or using subpoenas to harass opponents. Courts may intervene to prevent or sanction abuse of process, safeguarding the integrity and fairness of the legal system.

What is the dictionary definition of Abuse Of Process?
Dictionary Definition of Abuse Of Process

Abuse of process refers to the misuse or improper use of legal procedures or court processes for an ulterior motive, such as to harass, intimidate, or gain an unfair advantage over another party in a legal proceeding. This can include filing frivolous or baseless lawsuits, using legal processes to delay or obstruct justice, or engaging in other tactics that go beyond the legitimate pursuit of justice. Abuse of process is considered a form of legal misconduct and can result in sanctions or penalties against the party responsible.

n. the use of the legal process by illegal, malicious, or perverted means. Examples include serving (officially giving) a complaint to someone when it has not actually been filed, just to intimidate an enemy; filing a false declaration of service (filing a paper untruthfully stating a lie that someone has officially given a notice to another person); filing a lawsuit that has no basis at law but is intended to get information, force payment through fear of legal entanglement, or gain an unfair or illegal advantage. Some people think they are clever by abusing the process this way. A few unscrupulous lawyers do so intentionally and can be subject to discipline and punishment. Sometimes a lawyer will abuse the process accidentally; an honest one will promptly correct the error and apologise.


Full Definition Of Abuse Of Process

The use of legal process to accomplish an unlawful purpose; causing a summons, writ, warrant, mandate, or any other process to issue from a court in order to accomplish some purpose not intended by the law.

For example, a grocer rents a small building but complains to the landlord about the inadequate heating system, leaks in the roof, and potholes in the driveway. When the landlord fails to make the required repairs, the grocer decides the property is worth less and deducts $100 a month from his rent payments. The landlord starts a lawsuit to either recover the full amount of rent due or to oust the grocer and regain possession of the premises. The law in their state is fairly clear on the question: a tenant has no right to force a landlord to make repairs by withholding a portion of the rent. The landlord knows that she has a good chance of winning her case, but she also wants to teach the grocer a lesson. On the first three occasions that the case comes up on the court calendar, the grocer closes his store and appears in court, but the landlord does not show up. On the fourth occasion, the landlord comes to court and wins her case. The grocer, in a separate action for abuse of process, claims that the landlord is using the court’s power to order him to appear simply to harass him. The court agrees and awards him damages for lost income and inconvenience.

Abuse of process is a wrong committed during the course of litigation. It is a perversion of a lawfully issued process and is different from malicious prosecution, a lawsuit started without any reasonable cause.

Abuse Of Process FAQ'S

Abuse of process is a legal concept that refers to the misuse or improper use of legal proceedings for an ulterior motive, such as harassment, intimidation, or gaining an unfair advantage, rather than pursuing justice or the resolution of legitimate legal claims.

Some examples of abuse of process are filing frivolous or malicious lawsuits, making baseless legal arguments, using court processes to harass or intimidate opponents, fabricating evidence, making false statements to the court, and engaging in other deceptive or manipulative conduct to pervert the course of justice.

Abuse of process and malicious prosecution are related concepts but involve different legal elements. Abuse of process occurs when legal proceedings are misused for improper purposes during the course of litigation, while malicious prosecution involves initiating legal proceedings without probable cause and with malice or ill intent.

To establish an abuse of process claim, a plaintiff typically needs to show that the defendant engaged in a wilful misuse or perversion of the legal process, with an ulterior motive or improper purpose, which caused harm or prejudice to the plaintiff.

Abuse of process can be prevented through judicial oversight, sanctions for misconduct, dismissal of frivolous or malicious claims, awarding of costs and attorney’s fees to the prevailing party, and promoting ethical conduct among legal practitioners.

Some of the remedies for abuse of process include the dismissal of the lawsuit, sanctions against the offending party or attorney, awarding of damages for any harm caused, and other appropriate relief to rectify the injustice and deter future misconduct.

Yes, abuse of process can occur in criminal cases when law enforcement or prosecutors misuse the legal process to harass, intimidate, or unfairly prosecute individuals, such as by fabricating evidence, withholding exculpatory evidence, or engaging in other improper conduct.

Courts consider various factors in determining whether abuse of process has occurred, including the defendant’s motive or intent, the nature and timing of the actions taken, the impact on the legal proceedings, and whether the conduct was consistent with proper use of the legal process.

Yes, abuse of process can occur in various legal contexts outside of litigation, such as during investigations, administrative proceedings, arbitration, or other legal processes where parties have access to legal remedies and procedures.

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This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 11th April 2024.

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