UK Accounting Glossary
An individual, company, or institution sued or accused in a court of law. The term defendant is the name for the person who is being sued in a civil case or charged with a crime in criminal prosecution. In arbitration the term defendant and respondent are synonymous. The defendant does not have to prove their case; this must be done by the plaintiff.
An individual becomes a defendant in a tort case after a plaintiff files a complaint with the court and notifies the defendant. Cases may be decided against a defendant if they refuse to answer the complaint, in which case the court will make a default judgment against them, or they take the case to court and lose.
Civil cases may allow for both parties in the complaint to receive compensation for their losses under some systems of compensation allocation. For instance, some states allow compensation to be awarded using a comparative negligence system which determines both parties level of negligence and divides the compensation accordingly.
a person or institution against whom an action is brought in a court of law; the person being sued or accused.
In law, a defendant is the party that must respond to legal action. The legal action against a defendant can be either a civil or a criminal lawsuit. In a civil suit, a plaintiff makes a complaint against the defendant. In a criminal suit, a prosecutor charges a violation of a criminal statute. A lawsuit can name a single defendant or many. A defendant in a court proceeding that represents himself is said to be acting pro se. The legal counsel of a defendant is called the defence in the court proceedings. If a petition rather than a lawsuit is filed in court, the entity named is called a respondent rather than a defendant. Because of the time and costs involved in the US legal system, a potential defendant will often settle out of court before legal action is initiated.
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This glossary post was last updated: 7th February 2020.