Special Appearance Definition and Legal Meaning

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

What is Special Appearance?

(n) Special appearance is the representation of a case by an attorney other than his normally appointed attorney for representing him as a gust appearance in any particular session, as a substitution on special grounds, as a favor to avoid exparte decision, pending decision to accept handling the case etc. There is no obligation on the part of the special appearance attorney to continue appearing for the client

History and Meaning of Special Appearance

Special appearance is a legal term that refers to the representation of a client by an attorney who is not the client's regular attorney or the attorney of record in the case. This representation is usually made for a specific purpose or in a particular session, such as a substitution on special grounds or as a favor to avoid an ex-parte decision. The special appearance attorney is not obligated to continue representing the client beyond the appearance.

The history of special appearance can be traced back to early English common law, where a defendant could appear in court for a limited purpose, such as challenging the court's jurisdiction over them, without submitting themselves to the court's authority. In the United States, the use of special appearances has evolved over time and varies across different states and jurisdictions.

Examples of Special Appearance

  1. A defendant in a lawsuit hires an attorney to make a special appearance to argue that the court lacks jurisdiction over them.
  2. An attorney represents their client in a specific court hearing or session for a specialized matter without being the client's primary attorney.
  3. During a hearing, an attorney makes a special appearance to oppose a motion on behalf of their client, but it does not constitute an appearance in the case.
  4. A corporation hires a separate attorney to make a special appearance for one of its employees who is being sued.

Legal Terms Similar to Special Appearance

  1. General Appearance: In contrast to a special appearance, a general appearance is made by an attorney on behalf of the client to accept the court's jurisdiction over the case.
  2. Notice of Appearance: This is a legal document filed by an attorney to inform the court and all other parties that they will be representing a party in the case.
  3. Limited Appearance: Similar to a special appearance, a limited appearance is when an attorney represents a client for a specific hearing or purpose and is not the client's regular attorney or the attorney of record. However, in a limited appearance, the attorney is still required to comply with the ethical rules governing representation.