UK Accounting Glossary
An individual, company, or institution sued or accused in a court of law.
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.