Legal Dictionary


Legal Definition of pleading

Related terms

Definition of pleading


pleading (plural pleadings)

  1. (law) A document filed in a lawsuit, particularly a document initiating litigation or responding to the initiation of litigation.



  1. present participle of plead


pleading (comparative more pleading, superlative most pleading)

  1. Of or pertaining to that which pleads.

    * 1955, Emile Zola, Ann Lindsay, Earth, p. 251:
    Franchise, relaxed and soothed by the vagueness of a surrender set so far in the future, simply took hold of his two hands to make him behave himself and looked at him with her pretty pleading eyes - the eyes of a sensitive woman who didn't want to risk having a child by anyone but her husband.

    * 1999, Simone de Beauvoir, The Mandarins, p. 599:
    With a pleading look, she raised her eyes to him.

    * 1993, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Psalms, p. 225:
    Have but a pleading heart and God will have a plenteous hand.

Derived terms

  • pleadingly

Further reading

In law as practiced in countries that follow the English models, a pleading is a formal written statement filed with a court by parties in a civil action, other than a motion. By stating what claims and defences are at issue, pleadings establish the issues to be decided by the court.

Pleading in England and Wales is covered by the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR).

Pleading in United States federal courts is covered by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Pleading in the courts of the individual states is covered by the rules of civil procedure either promulgated by the respective state Supreme Courts, or by statute by the

respective legislatures.

Examples of pleadings

In the United States, a complaint is the first pleading filed by a plaintiff which initiates a lawsuit. A complaint sets forth the relevant allegations of fact that give rise to one or more legal causes of action along with a prayer for relief and sometimes an ad quod damnum clause. In some situations, a complaint is called a petition, in which case the party filing it is called the petitioner and the other party is the respondent. In equity, sometimes called chancery, the initial pleading may be called either a petition or a bill of complaint in chancery.

In England and Wales, the first pleading is a Claim Form, issued under either Part 7 or Part 8 of the Civil Procedure Rules, which sets out the nature of the action and the relief sought, and may give brief particulars of the claim. The Claimant also has the option, under Practice Direction 7A.61 to serve Particulars of Claim (a document setting out the allegations which found the cause of action) within 14 days of issue of the Claim Form.

When used in civil proceedings in England and Wales, the term "complaint" refers to the mechanism by which civil proceedings are instituted in the magistrates' court and may be either written or oral.

A demurrer is a pleading filed by a defendant which objects to the legal sufficiency of a complaint. At common law, the demurrer was the only pleading which in itself required an immediate ruling on its content from the court, and which was capable of immediately disposing of a case, with the inevitable result that demurrer practice came to resemble motion practice. Many common law jurisdictions therefore went to a narrower understanding of pleadings as framing the issues in a case but not being motions in and of themselves, and replaced the demurrer with the motion to dismiss for failure to state a cause of action or the application to strike out particulars of claim.

An answer is a pleading filed by a defendant which admits or denies the specific allegations set forth in a complaint and constitutes a general appearance by a defendant. In England and Wales, the equivalent pleading is called a Defence.

A defendant may also file a cross-complaint or third-party complaint as well to bring other parties into a case by the process of impleader.

A defendant may file a counter-claim to raise a cause of action to defend, reduce or set off the claim of the plaintiff.


  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

Translation of pleading in Malay


a document filed in a lawsuit

  1. pliding


1.     landed property
2.     common stock
3.     lex situs
4.     lex causae
5.     lex fori
6.     status quo
7.     buggery
8.     conclusive presumption
9.     interlocutory
10.     writ of seizure and sale