Restitution Definition and Legal Meaning

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

What is Restitution?

(n)Resitution is the making good of loss or damages occurred to the plaintiff by returning the property or by compensating the loss with its financial worth as per the a judgment, mutual understanding or by an agreement etc

History and Meaning of Restitution

Restitution is a legal term that refers to restoring something to its rightful owner or returning it to the state it was in when it was wrongfully taken. The principle behind restitution is to make the victim of wrongdoing whole again by restoring them to their former situation, whether it is by returning lost property or paying for damages. In most cases, the goal of restitution is not to punish the wrongdoer, but rather to right the wrong and restore fairness.

Restitution has a long history in English common law and comes from the Latin word "restitutio." In the past, it was considered a form of punishment for criminal offenses, focusing on restoring the victim’s rights rather than punishing the offender. Today, it is more commonly used in civil law cases, such as contract disputes or cases involving property rights.

Examples of Restitution

  1. A thief is caught stealing a victim’s laptop. The thief is required to return the laptop to the victim, which is an example of restitution.

  2. An employee is wrongfully terminated from their job and takes legal action. The court finds in their favor and orders their employer to pay them lost wages, which is an example of restitution.

  3. In a divorce settlement, one spouse is given the family house. However, it is discovered that the other spouse made illegal modifications to the property before leaving. The court orders the spouse to pay for the cost of restoring the house to its original state, which is an example of restitution.

Legal Terms Similar to Restitution

  1. Damages - monetary compensation awarded to a plaintiff in a civil suit as a result of harm caused by the defendant.

  2. Reimbursement - the act of repaying someone money that is owed for expenses they incurred.

  3. Compensation - payment made to someone for loss, injury, or suffering they have experienced.