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To assent, concur, confirm, approve, or ratify. The part of a law that is designed to secure enforcement by imposing a penalty for violation of the law or offering a reward for its observance. A punitive act taken by one nation against another nation that has violated a treaty or International Law.

Sanction is a broad term with different meanings in different contexts. Sanction can be used to describe tacit or explicit approval. Used in this sense, the term usually is used in assigning liability to a party who was not actively involved in wrongdoing but who did nothing to prevent it. For example, if the upper-level managers of a business knew that their employees were using unfair employment practices and did nothing to stop them, it may be said that the managers sanctioned the unfair practices.

The term sanction also can describe disagreement and condemnation. In Criminal Law, a sanction is the punishment for a criminal offense. The criminal sanction for a criminal defendant varies according to the crime and includes such measures as death, incarceration, Probation, community service, and monetary fines.

In Civil Law, a sanction is that part of a law that assigns a penalty for violation of the law's provisions. The most common civil sanction is a monetary fine, but other types of sanctions exist. Depending on the case, a sanction may be the suspension or revocation of a business, professional, or hobby license, or a court order commanding a person to do or refrain from doing something. A sanction may even be tailored to the case at hand. For instance, under rule 37 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, if a party refuses to obey a discovery order, or an order to relinquish requested evidence, the court may order that the evidence sought be automatically construed in favor of the requesting party, refuse to allow the disobedient party to make claims or defenses related to the evidence, stay or postpone the case until the discovery order is obeyed, dismiss the action or render judgment for the requesting party, declare the disobedient party in Contempt of court, or make any other order that is just under the circumstances.

In civil litigation, sanctions are slightly different from remedies. A remedy is the relief accorded to a victorious litigant. The remedy may be money damages, an order that forbids or commands the opposing party or parties to do or refrain from doing a certain act or acts, or some other result favorable to the victorious litigant. Remedies are not always intended to punish a person, while sanctions are always punitive. Nevertheless, remedies and sanctions are similar in that they refer to a loss that a civil litigant must bear if she is found liable for a civil wrong.

In some cases a party may have to remedy another party's loss as well as suffer criminal and civil sanctions, all for the same act. For example, if an attorney is professionally negligent in his handling of a client's case and steals funds from the client's trust account, the attorney may face a Malpractice civil suit from the aggrieved client in which the client asks for money as a remedy for the malpractice. The attorney also may suffer sanctions from the professional conduct committee of the state bar association and criminal sanctions from a prosecution for the theft.

The contempt-of-court offense provides a flexible form of sanction. Contempt-of-court sanctions may be either civil or criminal. The court may order a party to pay a fine or suffer some setback in the case (civil contempt), or it may order that the party be placed in jail (criminal contempt). The basic difference between the two is that criminal contempt is an act of disrespect toward the court, whereas civil contempt acts tend to be less offensive transgressions, such as the unintentional failure to comply with discovery orders or to perform other acts ordered by the court.

A common form of sanction is the Administrative Agency sanction against a corporation. Corporations must follow various rules passed by federal, state, and local administrative agencies authorized by lawmaking bodies to regulate specific topics of government concern. If a business does not obey agency rules that apply to it, it may face sanctions levied by the administrative agency responsible for enforcing the rules. For example, federal and state environmental protection agencies are authorized by statute to levy fines against businesses that violate environmental laws and regulations.

An international sanction is a special form of sanction taken by one country against another. International sanctions are measures that are designed to bring a delinquent or renegade state into compliance with expected rules of conduct. International sanctions may be either non-forceful or military. Military sanctions can range from cutting off access to limited strikes to full-scale war. Non-forceful international sanctions include diplomatic measures such as the withdrawal of an ambassador, the severing of diplomatic relations, or the filing of a protest with the United Nations; financial sanctions such as denying aid or cutting off access to financial institutions; and economic sanctions such as partial or total trade embargoes. The U.N. Security Council has the authority to impose economic and military sanctions on nations that pose a threat to peace.

Further readings

"Limits of the Criminal Sanction." 2002. New Jersey Law Journal (July 29).

Pate, William H. 2002. "To Sanction or Not to Sanction: Why Arguing Against the Court's Precedent is Not an Automatic Rule 11 Violation." Campbell Law Review 25 (fall).


1) a financial penalty imposed by a judge on a party or attorney for violation of a court rule, for receiving a special waiver of a rule, or as a fine for contempt of court. If a fine, the sanction may be paid to the court or to the opposing party to compensate the other side for inconvenience or added legal work due to the rule violation. Examples: a) under local rules Bagatelle's attorney is required to file a brief in response to the opposition's motion five days before the hearing, but is two days late. The judge accepts the documents, but imposes a $200 sanction on Bagatelle's attorney for the failure to file them on time. b) Campbell's lawyer wants to include a newly-found expert in his list of witnesses, but the date for adding to the list has passed. The judge permits the added witness, but allows the opposition to take the expert's deposition, and imposes a sanction (fine) on Campbell to pay both sides' costs of the deposition and $500 attorney's fees to the opposing counsel. Defendant Danny Dipper says "you son-of-a-bitch" in court when the Judge fines him $100 for jay-walking. The judge imposes a sanction of $200 and a day in jail for Danny's contempt of court. 2) v. to impose a fine or penalty as part of a judge's duty to maintain both order and fairness in court. 3) v. in international law, to impose economic constraints on trade against a country that violates international law or is guilty of human rights violations. 4) v. to allow or approve. This is ironically in contrast to the other meanings of "sanction." (See: contempt of court)


(Permission), noun acceptance, affirmance, affirmation, agreement, allowance, approbation, approval, assent, auctoritas, authorization, charter, confirmatio, consent, cooperation, countenance, empowerment, encouragement, endorsement, favor, grant, homologation, immunity, indulgence, legality, license, permit, ratification, seal, stamp of approval, subscription, sufferance, support, tolerance, toleration, vouchsafement, willingness
Foreign phrases: Multa conceduntur per obliquum quae non conceduntur de directo.Many things are allowed indirectly which are not allowed directly.


(Punishment), noun condemnation, deprivation, disciplinary action, discipline, infliction, penal retribution, penalty, retributive action, suffering


verb accede, accept, acquiesce, agree to, allow, approbate, approve, assent to, authenticate, charter, confer a privilege, confer a right, confirmare, consent to, countenance, empower, enable, endorse, foster, give approval, give permission, go along with, grant, gratify, homologate, indulge, legitimate, legitimize, license, permit, privilege, promote, ratify, ratum facere, stand behind, subscribe to, suffer, support, tolerate, uphold, validate, vouchsafe
Associated concepts: civil sanctions, criminal sanctions, penal sanctions
See also: abide, accept, acceptance, accredit, acquiescence, adoption, advantage, advocacy, advocate, agree, allow, appoint, approval, approve, assent, authority, authorize, bear, bestow, bind, brevet, capacity, certify, compulsion, concede, concession, concur, confirm, confirmation, consent, constitute, copyright, corroborate, countenance, countersign, decree, delegate, discretion, dispensation, documentation, droit, embrace, empower, enable, endorse, enfranchise, establish, exception, favor, fiat, force, franchise, grant, indorse, indorsement, indulgence, invest, leave, legality, legalization, legalize, legislate, legitimate, let, liberty, license, obligate, option, organize, pass, permission, permit, prefer, prerogative, privilege, promote, qualify, ratification, reassure, recommend, recommendation, right, seal, sign, subscription, support, sustain, title, tolerate, uphold, validate, vest, warrant

SANCTION. That part of a law which inflicts a penalty for its violation, or bestows a reward for its observance. Sanctions are of two kinds, those which redress civil injuries, called civil sanctions; and those which punish crimes, called penal sanctions. 1 Hoffm. Leg. Outl. 279; Just. Ins. lib. 2, t. 1, Sec. 10; Ruthf. Inst. b. 2, c. 6, s. 6; Toull. tit. prel. 86; Ferguss. Inst. of Mor. Phil. p. 4, c. 3, s. 13, and p. 6, c. 1, et seq; 1 Bl. Com. 56.

References in periodicals archive ?
Eighteen of the shipping companies and vessels were sanctioned for coal exports from North Korea and the engagement in ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products prohibited by UN sanctions.
After a JSA sanction is imposed, the person it affects can challenge the sanction by first providing information on why they did not fulfill certain criteria.
Apart from known concerns like capital and figuring out how to comply with the requirements of Basel III, I see that the enforcement of sanctions and embargoes is the nightmare that is really keeping bankers awake at night.
Sanctions regulations that impose asset freezes or specific transaction restrictions extend beyond the published names of individuals and entities.
The sanction, depriving her of all benefits for two weeks, had led to a spiralling problem with stress and depression.
While the Sanction Guidelines are not meant to prescribe fixed sanctions for particular violations, the goal is to assist FINRA's adjudicators - Hearing Panels and the NAC - in imposing appropriate sanctions consistently and fairly in disciplinary proceedings," FINRA states in the release announcing the changes.
Assessments of sanction effectiveness are mixed, with the weight of opinion heavily on the side of failure.
In this essay I argue that smart sanctions have been more of a pronounced success than Gordon claims.
Gary Hufbauer, a sanctions expert at the Peterson Institute for Economics in Washington DC, is adamant the new set of sanctions against Iran is unlikely to reach its policy goal.
In the other treatments, the introductions of opportunities to reward and/or sanction initially increase contributions.
Some of us who have been both outside observers and US government practitioners of sanctions have long been skeptical that they are--at least very often--a ready tool to serve US foreign-policy interests, except as a means of threading the needle between doing nothing and going to war.
Replying to a question at the floor of the National Assembly here, Parliamentary Secretary Shehzadi Umerzadi Tiwana told on Friday that multilateral sanctions have been imposed by United Nations while the unilateral sanctions by United States and United Kingdom, Canada and European Union.