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A record of the court. A paper is said to be filed when it is delivered to the proper officer to be kept on file as a matter of record and reference. But in general the terms file and the files are used loosely to denote the official custody of the court or the place in the offices of a court where the records and papers are kept. The file in a case includes the original complaint and all pleadings and papers belonging thereto.

A clerk files a document by endorsing it on the date it is received and retaining it in his or her office for inspection by the parties that it might concern.

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


1) v. to deposit with the clerk of the court a written complaint or petition which is the opening step in a lawsuit and subsequent documents, including an answer, demurrer, motions, petitions, and orders. All of these are placed in a case file which has a specific number assigned to it which must be stated on every document. The term is used: "When are you going to file the complaint," or "The answer will be filed tomorrow." 2) n. the master folder of a lawsuit kept by the clerk of the court, including all legal pleadings (pages) filed by both sides. Each case file has an assigned number, and each document in the file must have a stamp showing the date it was received and the name of the clerk who received it. Any document which is filed must be served on the opposing attorney, usually by mail, except that the first paper filed (complaint, petition, motion) must be served on all defendants personally (hand delivered by a process server). 3) n. the record an attorney keeps on a case, containing all papers deposited with the clerk, as well as all correspondence and notes on the case.

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


to start a court action.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006
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