Non-Suit Definition and Legal Meaning

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

What is Non-Suit?

It refers to the judges order against the plaintiff either because he/she have no case to prove or that they are unable to provide sufficient evidence. A voluntary nonsuit is when plaintiff withdraws the case or it is involuntary non-suit, when the plaintiff does not appear in trial or that he/she is not able to provide any evidence.

History and Meaning of Non-Suit

Non-suit is a legal term that has its origins in the English common law system. It refers to a judgment made by the court against the plaintiff who fails to present a case, provide sufficient evidence or withdraws the case before the verdict. Involuntary non-suit happens when the plaintiff fails to show up at the hearing or cannot provide any evidence, while voluntary non-suit occurs when a plaintiff withdraws the case. The effect of a non-suit is that the plaintiff is barred from bringing the same claim again.

Examples of Non-Suit

  • The judge dismissed the case after the plaintiff failed to show up at the hearing; it was an involuntary non-suit.
  • After the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff was forced to withdraw the case, which was a voluntary non-suit.
  • The judge granted non-suit after the plaintiff could not provide any evidence to support their claims.

Legal Terms Similar to Non-Suit

  • Summary judgment: A summary judgment is similar to a non-suit in that it ends a case before trial. The key difference is that a summary judgment is decided by the court based on the evidence submitted, while a non-suit is entered by the judge when the plaintiff fails to meet its burden of proof.
  • Dismissal: Dismissal refers to a judge's order ending a lawsuit. While a non-suit ends the case due to the plaintiff's failure to present evidence, a dismissal can occur for many reasons, such as a lack of jurisdiction or a defective claim.
  • Statute of limitations: The statute of limitations is the time limit for filing a legal claim. If the plaintiff waits too long to file, the case may be barred by the statute of limitations.