abuse of process

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Abuse of Process

The use of legal process to accomplish an unlawful purpose; causing a summons, writ, warrant, mandate, or any other process to issue from a court in order to accomplish some purpose not intended by the law.

For example, a grocer rents a small building but complains to the landlord about the inadequate heating system, leaks in the roof, and potholes in the driveway. When the landlord fails to make the required repairs, the grocer decides the property is worth less and deducts $100 a month from his rent payments. The landlord starts a lawsuit to either recover the full amount of rent due or to oust the grocer and regain possession of the premises. The law in their state is fairly clear on the question: a tenant has no right to force a landlord to make repairs by withholding a portion of the rent. The landlord knows that she has a good chance of winning her case, but she also wants to teach the grocer a lesson. On the first three occasions that the case comes up on the court calendar, the grocer closes his store and appears in court, but the landlord does not show up. On the fourth occasion, the landlord comes to court and wins her case. The grocer, in a separate action for abuse of process, claims that the landlord is using the court's power to order him to appear simply to harass him. The court agrees and awards him money damages for lost income and inconvenience.

Abuse of process is a wrong committed during the course of litigation. It is a perversion of lawfully issued process and is different from Malicious Prosecution, a lawsuit started without any reasonable cause.

abuse of process

n. the use of legal process by illegal, malicious, or perverted means. Examples include serving (officially giving) a complaint to someone when it has not actually been filed, just to intimidate an enemy, filing a false declaration of service (filing a paper untruthfully stating a lie that someone has officially given a notice to another person, filing a lawsuit which has no basis at law, but is intended to get information, force payment through fear of legal entanglement or gain an unfair or illegal advantage. Some people think they are clever by abusing the process this way. A few unscrupulous lawyers do so intentionally and can be subject to discipline and punishment. Sometimes a lawyer will abuse the process accidentally; an honest one will promptly correct the error and apologize.

abuse of process

TORT or DELICT of using procedures of courts and the like other than to litigate, an example being where a person raises actions to annoy another rather than to try to recover money.
References in periodicals archive ?
Family Division President Sir Mark Potter struck out his claim in July last year that he had the right to examine the wills as vexatious and an abuse of process.
But in a statement, the Premier League said: "We share Charlton's view that the appeal for his dismissal against Arsenal was neither frivolous nor an abuse of process.
Doug Flynn, chief executive of Rentokil Initial, said: "This has been a time and money wasting distraction, in my view it was an abuse of process.
He also ruled the relationship with the police officer was insignificant and there had been no abuse of process.
The officers' lawyers had claimed an abuse of process, and said they could not get a fair trial so long after the tragedy.
QualMark's claims in the new lawsuit charge SSI with Lanham Act violations, deceptive trade practices, unfair competition, interference with prospective economic advantage, false advertising, trade libel and abuse of process.
In July last year District Judge Mervyn Bates stayed their cases on an abuse of process.
Three appeal judges said Edward Grant's conviction was 'unsafe', on the grounds that the trial judge should have stayed the proceedings because there had been an abuse of process by the police in Lincolnshire.
Later, though, the CPS decided to proceed with the case, something which Mr Taylor's lawyers claimed was an abuse of process.
Chesapeake intends to vigorously defend the lawsuit which it believes to be an abuse of process designed solely to seek a strategic advantage in the geographic areas in which the companies compete.
In its counterclaims, Frisby Aerospace alleged that Eaton has engaged in a false and/or misleading depiction of Frisby Aerospace in the marketplace, constituting common law unfair competition, improper interference with existing and prospective contracts and business relationships, abuse of process, defamation, and violations of the North Carolina Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the false advertising provisions of the Lanham Act.
And his lawyers argued criminal proceedings which led to him being jailed for trying to kill part-time soldier Samuel Brush 32 years ago were an abuse of process.