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Peremptory allegation or assertion of a legal right.

A demand is an emphatic claim, which presumes that no doubt exists regarding its legal force and effect. It is a request made with authority.

A money demand is a demand for a fixed sum of money that arises out of an agreement or contract. Commercial Paper is frequently payable on demand or immediately upon request.

A legal demand is one that is made by a lawfully authorized individual and is proper as to form, time, and place.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1) v. to claim as a need, requirement or entitlement, as in to demand payment or performance under a contract. In a lawsuit for payment of a debt or performance of an act, the party suing (plaintiff) should allege that a demand was made for payment or performance. 2) n. a claim, such as an unqualified request for payment or other action. 3) adj. referring to a note payable at any time a request to pay is made. (See: demand note)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.


to make a formal legal claim to money or property.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

DEMAND, contracts. A claim; a legal obligation.
     2. Lord Coke says, that demand is a word of art, and of an extent, in its signification, greater than any other word except claim. Litt. sect. 508; Co. Litt. 291; 2 Hill, R. 220; 9 S. & R. 124; 6 Watts and S. 226. Hence a release of all demands is, in general, a release of all covenants, real and personal, conditions, whether broken or not, annuities, recognizances, obligations, contracts, and the like. 3 Tho. Co. Litt. 427; 3 Penna, 120; 2 Hill, R. 228.
     3. But a release of all demands does not discharge rent before it is due, if it be a rent incident to the reversion; for the rent was not only not due, but the consideration - the future enjoyment of the lands - for which the rent was to be given, was not executed. 1 Sid. 141; 1 Lev. 99 3 Lev. 274; Bac. Ab. Release, I.

DEMAND, practice. A requisition or a request by one individual to another to do a particular thing.
     2. Demands are either express or implied. In many cases, an express demand must be made before the commencement of an action, some of which will be considered below; in other cases an implied demand is all that the law requires, and the bringing of an action is a sufficient demand in those cases. 1 Saund. 33, note 2.
     3. A demand is frequently necessary to secure to a man all his rights, both in actions arising on contracts and those which are founded on some tort. It is requisite also, when it is intended to bring the party into contempt for not performing an order which has been made a rule of court.
     4.-1. Whether a demand is requisite before the plaintiff can commence an action arising on contract, depends upon express or implied stipulations of the parties. In case of the sale of property, for example, to be paid for on delivery, a demand of it must be made before the commencement of an action for non-delivery, and proved on the trial, unless it can be shown that the seller has incapacitated himself by a resale and delivery of the property to another person, or otherwise. 1 East, R. 204 5 T. R. 409; 10 East, R. 359; 5 B. & Ald. 712 2 Bibb, 280 Hardin, 79; 1 Verm. 25; 5 Cowen, 516. 16 Mass. 453; 6 Mass. 61 4 Mass. 474; 3 Bibb, 85; 3 Wend. 556; 5 Munf. R. 1; 2 Greenl. 308; 9 John. 361; 6 Hill, N. Y. Rep. 297.
     5. On the same principles, a request on a general promise to marry is requisite, unless it be dispensed with by the party's marrying another person, which puts it out of his power to fulfill his contract, or that he refuses to marry at any time. 2 Dow. & Ry. 55; 1 Chit. Pr. 57, note (n), and 438, note (e)
     6. A demand of rent must always be made before a re-entry for the non- payment of rent. Vide Re-entry.
     7. When a note is given and no time of payment is mentioned, it is payable immediately. 8 John. R. 374; 5 Cowen, R. 516 1 Conn. R. 404; 1 Bibb, R. 164; 1 Blackf. R. 233.
     8. There are cases where, a demand is not originally necessary, but becomes so by the act of the obligor. On a promissory note no express demand of payment is requisite before bringing an action, but if the debtor tenders the amount due to the creditor on the note, it becomes necessary before bringing. an action, to make a demand of the debtor for payment; and this should be of the very sum tendered. 1 Campb. 181 Id. 474; 1 Stark. R. 323; 2 E. C. L. R. 409.
     9. When a debt or obligation is payable, and no day of payment is fixed, it is payable, on demand. In omnibus obligationibus in quibus dies non ponitur, presenti die debitur. Jac. Introd. 62; 7 T. R. 427 Barn. & Cr. 157. The demand must, however, be made in a reasonable time, for after the lapse of twenty years, a presumption will arise that the note has been paid; but, like some other presumptions, it may be rebutted, by showing the fact that the note remains unpaid. 5 Esp. R. 52 1 D. & R. 16 Byles on Bills, 169.
    10. When demand of the payment of a debt, secured by note or other instrument, is made, the party making it should be ready to deliver up such note or instrument, on payment. If it has been lost or destroyed, an indemnity should be offered. 2 Taunt. 61; 3 Taunt. 397; 5 Taunt. 30; 6 Mass. R. 524; 7 Mass. R. 483; 13 Mass. R. 557; 11 Wheat. R. 171; 4 Verm. R. 313; 7 Gill & Johns. 78 3 Whart. R. 116; 12 Pick. R. 132 17 Mass. 449.
    11.-2. It is requisite in some cases arising ex delicto, to make a demand of restoration of the right before the commencement of an action.
    12. The following are examples 1. When the wife, apprentice, or servant of one person, has been harbored by another, the proper course is to make a demand of restoration before an action brought, in order to constitute the party a willful wrongdoer, unless the plaintiff can prove an original illegal enticing away. 2 Lev. 63: Willes, 582; 1 Peake's C. N. P. 55; 5 East, 39; 6 T. R. 652; 4 Moore's R. 12 16 E. C. L. R. 3 5 7.
    13.-2. In cases where the taking of goods is lawful, but their subsequent detention becomes illegal, it is absolutely necessary, in order to secure sufficient evidence of a conversion on the trial, to give a formal notice of the owner's right to the property and possession, and to make a formal demand in writing of the delivery of such possession to the owner. The refusal to comply with such a demand, unless justified by some right which the possessor may have in the thing detained, will in general afford sufficient evidence of a conversion. 2 Saund. 47, note (e); 1 Chit. Pr. 566.
    14.-3. When a nuisance has been erected or continued by a man on his own land) it is advisable, particularly in the case of a private nuisance, to give the party notice and request him to remove it, either before an entry is made for the purpose of abating it, or an action is commenced against the wrong doer and a demand is always indispensable in cases of a continuance of a nuisance originally created by another person. 2 B. & C. 302; S. C. 9 E. C. L. R. 96 Cro. Jac. 555; 5 Co. 100, 101; 2 Phil. Ev. 8, 18, n. 119; 1 East, 111; 7 Vin. Ab. 506; 1 Ayl. Pand. 497; Bac. Ab. Rent, 1. Vide articles Abatement of Nuisance, and if Nuisance. For the allegation of a demand or request in a declaration, see article Licet scoepius requisitus; and Com. Dig. Pleader, C 70 2 Chit. Pl. 84; 1 Saund. 33, note 2; 1 Chit. Pl. 322.
    15.-4. When an order to pay money, or to do any other thing, has been made a rule of court, a demand for the payment of the money, or performance of the thing, must be made before an attachment will be issued for a contempt. 2 Dowl. P. C. 338, 448: 1 C. M. & R. 88, 459; 4 Tyr. 369; 2 Scott, 193; 4 Dowl. P. C. 114; 1 Hodges 197; 1 Har. & Woll. 216; 1 Hodges, 157; Id. 337; 4 Dowl. P. C. 86.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
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