Abuse Of Process Definition and Legal Meaning

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

What is Abuse Of Process?

n. it is the malicious and deliberate misuse or perversion of regularly issued court process (civil or criminal) not justified by the underlying legal action. the word “process” could mean official summons or other notice issued from a court which in case of abuse are used with a bad intention that offends or hinders justice.

History and Meaning of Abuse of Process

Abuse of process is a legal term that refers to the inappropriate use of a court's procedural rules to achieve some ulterior motive or result, rather than to pursue a legitimate legal action. This can include the filing of frivolous or malicious lawsuits, the initiation of legal proceedings without reasonable grounds for doing so, or the use of legal processes to harass, intimidate, or improperly gain advantage over another party. The abuse of process doctrine is intended to prevent such actions, which undermine the fair administration of justice.

The origins of the abuse of process doctrine can be traced back to English common law, where it was recognized as a means of addressing improper litigation tactics. It has since been adopted by many other jurisdictions around the world, including the United States and Canada. While the specific requirements for proving an abuse of process claim may vary by jurisdiction, the underlying principle remains the same: courts should not allow legal procedures to be used as a weapon to harm others or gain an unfair advantage.

Examples of Abuse of Process

  1. A landlord who repeatedly files eviction lawsuits against a tenant without sufficient grounds, in order to pressure them into leaving or to retaliate against them for complaining about poor living conditions.
  2. An individual who files a defamation suit against someone for making statements that are protected by the First Amendment, with the goal of intimidating or silencing them.
  3. A company that initiates a lawsuit against a competitor, not in order to resolve a legitimate legal dispute, but to tie up the competitor's resources and interfere with their business operations.

Legal Terms Similar to Abuse of Process

  • Malicious prosecution: A legal term that refers specifically to the act of initiating a proceeding without probable cause and with a malicious intent.
  • Vexatious litigation: Refers to the filing of legal proceedings that are repetitive, harassing, frivolous, or otherwise intended to cause unnecessary expense, delay or inconvenience to the other party.
  • Frivolous lawsuit: A term often used to describe a lawsuit that lacks any legal merit or basis, and is intended solely to harass, intimidate, or extort money from the defendant.