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An unexpected action, sudden confusion, or an unanticipated event.

As a ground for a new trial, surprise means the condition in which a party to a lawsuit is unexpectedly placed and that is detrimental to that party's case. The situation must be one that the party could not reasonably have anticipated and that could not be guarded against or prevented.

When a party is taken by surprise by the testimony of his or her own witness, the party may be permitted to discredit the witness by showing that the witness made prior contradictory or inconsistent statements.


noun admiratio, amazement, astonishment, astoundment, bafflement, bewilderment, consternation, lack of warning, miratio, shock, unexpected event, unexxected occurrence, unforeseen contingency, unforeseen event, unforeseen occurrence, unsuspected event, unusual occurrence, wonder, wonderment
Associated concepts: take an opposing party by surprise
See also: bombshell, fortuitous, overwhelm, unforeseeable, unforeseen

SURPRISE. This term is frequently used in courts of equity and by writers on equity jurisprudence. It signifies the act by which a party who is entering into a contract is taken unawares, by which sudden confusion or perplexity is created, which renders it proper that a court of equity should relieve the party so surprised. 2 Bro. Ch. R. 150; 1 Story, Eq. Jur. Sec. 120, note. Mr. Jeremy, Eq. Jur. 366, seems to think that the word surprise is a technical expression, and nearly synonymous. with fraud. Page 383, note. It is sometimes, used in this sense when it is deemed presumptive of, or approaching to fraud. 1 Fonb. Eq. 123 3 Chan. Cas. 56, 74, 103, 114. Vide 6 Ves. R. 327, 338; 2 Bro. Ch. R. 826; 16 Ves. R. 81, 86, 87; 1 Cox, R. 340; 2 Harr. Dig. 92.
     2. In practice, by surprise is understood that situation in which a party is placed, without any default of his own, which will be, injurious to his interest. 8 N. AS. 407. The courts always do everything in their power to relieve a party from the effects of a surprise, when he has been diligent in endeavouring to avoid it. 1 Clarke's R. 162; 3 Bouv. Inst. n. 3285.

References in periodicals archive ?
Critique: Impressively well written, organized and presented, "Missing Links: Practical and Surprisingly Effective Tools for Self-Transformation .
Men, not surprisingly, spend a little less, but still admit to paying out PS135 on new holiday wardrobe essentials.
Not surprisingly, the politicians didn't listen then, and I shall be astounded if they listen now.
Surprisingly this number is from the Lebanese designer's spring 2003 collection.
Not surprisingly, the billboards drew the ire of anti-gun organizations.
The Clemmie, a rather stylish little number, is, and I quote: "Eye-catching acid yellow and surprisingly versatile.
But Meaker remained upbeat, saying: "We're a young side and we're developing, it's surprisingly positive.
Byline: US President Barack Obama on Friday was surprisingly awarded 2009's Nobel Peace Prize.
They're all savvy performers and surprisingly literate writers, if ones who wear their influences on their sleeves.
Muller rather damns with faint praise in the latest instalment of its surprisingly dull Surprisingly Nice campaign, featuring real people talking about why Muller Rice is, y'know, nice.
Summary: Since the disappointing US new homes sales report hit the wires at 14:00 GMT, the US markets have been surprisingly strong.
There are chapters on street crime, substance abuse, pornography and prostitution, murder, 'con men', and frauds, riots, the police and, not surprisingly, an entire chapter devoted to Jack the Ripper.