Abatement Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Abatement, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Abatement?

n. abatement has different contexts of usage, which are, 1) chancery practice, is a suspension of all proceedings in a suit, from the want of proper parties capable of proceeding therein 2) reduction made by the creditor, for the prompt payment of a debt due by the payor or debtor 3) deductions made at the custom-house from the duties chargeable upon goods when they are damaged 4) reduction of legacies for the purpose of paying the testator’s debts 5) prostration or removal of a private or public nuisance.

History and Definition of Abatement

Abatement is a term that has different meanings and applications in the legal system. Essentially, abatement refers to a reduction or elimination of a claim or legal action. One of the earliest uses of the term in legal documents dates back to medieval England, where courts would sometimes rule that a case should be “abated” due to an error in the legal process or a lack of jurisdiction.

In modern legal practice, abatement is used in various contexts. For example, it can refer to a reduction of a debt owed by a debtor, often given as a reward for prompt payment. In the context of customs duties, abatement may refer to a reduction in the amount owed if goods are damaged or otherwise diminished in value. Additionally, abatement can refer to the suspension of legal proceedings, such as in the case of a missing or dead party in a lawsuit.

Examples of Abatement

  1. John owes a debt of $10,000 to the bank. The bank has offered to give him an abatement of $1,000 if he makes a payment within the next five days.

  2. A shipment of electronics from China has arrived in the United States, but customs officials note that some items are damaged. The importer applies for abatement of the customs duties owed, and the amount is reduced by 20%.

  3. In a court case involving a property dispute, it is discovered that one of the parties has recently died. The case is put into abatement until a representative for the deceased party can be identified.

Legal Terms Similar to Abatement

  • Rescission: This term refers to the cancellation or termination of a contract, often due to fraud, misrepresentation, or mistake.
  • Stay: A stay is an order from a court suspending legal proceedings temporarily, often until certain conditions are met or a hearing can take place.
  • Estoppel: This legal principle prevents a party from making a certain claim or argument if they have previously acted in a way that contradicts that claim.