civil imprisonmentimprisonment for a civil as opposed to a criminal matter, traditionally debt; in the Scots law of diligence or legal enforcement, a remedy now considerably restricted by which the debtor was placed in prison until the debt was discharged. It is still competent for failure to pay fines for contempt of court and for wilful failure to pay aliment. Failure to perform a decree that orders specific performance (called a decree ad factum praestandum) may result in imprisonment if the court is satisfied that the nonperformance is wilful.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006