Legal Dictionary


Legal Definition of sequestration


  1. The taking of someone's property, voluntarily (by deposit) or involuntarily (by seizure), by court officers or into the possession of a third party, awaiting the outcome of a trial in which ownership of that property is at issue.

Definition of sequestration


sequestration (plural sequestrations)

  1. The process or act of sequestering.

Further reading

In law, sequestration may refer to:

  • Sequestration (law), the seizure of property
  • the isolation of a jury in order to ensure they are not prejudiced by external contact
  • In Scottish law, the term for bankruptcy
  • In U.S. law, a procedure by which an automatic spending cut is triggered, introduced to the federal budget in 1985 by the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Balanced Budget Act
    • most recently implement in the Budget Control Act of 2011
  • In certain cases of public health risk, protective sequestration refers to measures taken to protect a small, defined, and still-healthy population from an epidemic (or pandemic)

Sequestration (law)

Sequestration is the act of removing, separating, or seizing anything from the possession of its owner under process of law for the benefit of creditors or the state.


The Latin sequestrare, to set aside or surrender, a late use, is derived from sequester, a depositary or trustee, one in whose hands a thing in dispute was placed until the dispute was settled; this was a term of Roman jurisprudence (cf. Digest L. 16,115). By derivation it must be connected with sequi, to follow; possibly the development in meaning may be follower, attendant, intermediary, hence trustee. In English "sequestered" means merely secluded, withdrawn.

Sequestration, the act of removing, separating or seizing anything from the possession of its owner, particularly in law, of the taking possession of property under process of law for the benefit of creditors or the state.


In law, the term "sequestration" has many applications; thus it is applied to the act of a belligerent power which seizes the debts due from its own subject to the enemy power; to a writ directed to persons, "sequestrators," to enter on the property of the defendant and seize the goods.

Church of England

There are also two specific and slightly different usages in term of the Church of England; to the action of taking profits of a benefice to satisfy the creditors of the incumbent; to the action of ensuring church and parsonage premises are in good order in readiness for a new incumbent and the legal paperwork to ensure this.

As the goods of the Church cannot be touched by a lay hand, the writ is issued to the bishop, and he issues the sequestration order to the church-wardens who collect the profits and satisfy the demand. Similarly when a benefice is vacant the church wardens take out sequestration under the seal of the Ordinary and manage the profits for the next incumbent.

Scottish Law

In the Scots law of bankruptcy the term "sequestration" is used of the taking of the bankrupt's estate by order of the court for the benefit of the creditors.

Assets Recovery Agency

The Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) was established in the United Kingdom under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to reduce crime by sequestering the proceeds of crime; its powers include civil recovery through the High Court. The ARA was later merged with the Serious Organised Crime Agency.


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


1.     lex fori
2.     landed property
3.     lex situs
4.     respondent
5.     default judgment
6.     tort law
7.     living will
8.     lex causae
9.     law
10.     salacious