A lawsuit is a proceeding by one or more parties (the plaintiff or claimant) against one or more parties (the defendant) in a civil court of law.[1] The archaic term "suit in law" is found in only a small number of laws still in effect today. The term "lawsuit" is used with respect to a civil action brought by a plaintiff (a party who claims to have incurred loss as a result of a defendant's actions) who requests a legal remedy or equitable remedy from a court. The defendant is required to respond to the plaintiff's complaint or else risk default judgment. If the plaintiff is successful, judgment is entered in favor of the defendant. A variety of court orders may be issued in connection with or as part of the judgment to enforce a right, award damages or restitution, or impose a temporary or permanent injunction to prevent an act or compel an act. A declaratory judgment may be issued to prevent future legal disputes.

A lawsuit may involve resolution of disputes involving issues of private law between individuals, business entities or non-profit organizations. A lawsuit may also involve issues of public law in the sense that the state is treated as if it were a private party in a civil case, either as a plaintiff with a civil cause of action to enforce certain laws, or as a defendant in actions contesting the legality of the state's laws or seeking monetary damages for injuries caused by agents of the state.

Conducting a civil action is called litigation. The plaintiffs and defendants are called litigants and the attorneys representing them are called litigators.[2] The term litigation may also refer to the conducting of criminal actions (see criminal procedure).

  1. ^ Brian A. Garner, ed. (2014). "Suit". Black's Law Dictionary (10th ed.). West.
  2. ^ Abram, Lisa L. (2000). "Civil Litigation". The Official Guide to Legal Specialties. Chicago: National Association for Law Placement, Harcourt Legal & Professional Publications. p. 71. ISBN 978-0-15-900391-6.

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