abuse of process

Also found in: Wikipedia.

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 ?
He stayed the indictment against Tran, saying: "I'm satisfied that this is a case where the defence have established that a continuation of this prosecution would be an abuse of process.
No plea was entered to allow the defence to consider an application for abuse of process.
The trial court passed the order without considering that it would amount to an abuse of process of law, he said, adding that if the prosecution was allowed to continue with the trial, it would be a futile exercise, wastage of time and abuse of process of court.
It would amount to an abuse of process of the court if there was any evidence to suggest this was a publicity stunt.
Malicious Prosecution Overlaps with Abuse of Process
The intentional tort discussion also examines false imprisonment as it interacts with malicious prosecution and abuse of process, and the torts of intentional interference with contractual and economic relations.
The 56-year-old pleaded not guilty to raping a woman and yesterday applied for an abuse of process hearing at Liverpool Crown Court.
The abuse of process extends to doctoring documents and they've been exposed to having stooped to pervert the course of justice.
The President has always contended that the court proceedings are an abuse of process by a political party in order to advance a political agenda.
In its announcement, the tribunal said the Philippine government's act of initiating the arbitration did not constitute an abuse of process and that the non-appearance of China
A party claiming abuse of process must prove a person used the legal process against the party primarily to accomplish a purpose for which it is not designed and caused harm to the party by the abuse of process.
In December 2012, Federal Court Justice Steven Rares dismissed the sexual harassment case that Mr Ashby filed against the former speaker as an abuse of process.