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Party (law)

A party is an individual or group of individuals that compose a single entity which can be identified as one for the purposes of the law.

Parties to litigation

Parties include:

  • plaintiff (person filing suit),
  • defendant (person sued or charged with a crime),
  • petitioner (files a petition asking for a court ruling),
  • respondent (usually in opposition to a petition or an appeal),
  • [applicant]] (files an application which may require a ruling on it)
  • cross-complainant (a defendant who sues someone else in the same lawsuit), or
  • cross-defendant (a person sued by a cross-complainant).[1]

A person who only appears in the case as a witness is not considered a party.

Courts use various terms to identify the role of a particular party in civil litigation, usually identifying the party that brings a lawsuit as the plaintiff, or, in older American cases, the party of the first part; and the party against whom the case was brought as the defendant, or, in older American cases, the party of the second part. In a criminal case in Nigeria and some other countries the parties are called prosecutor and defendant.

See also


  1. ^ Lehman, Jeffrey; Phelps, Shirelle (2005). West's Encyclopedia of American Law, Vol. 7 (2 ed.). Detroit: Thomson/Gale. p. 374. ISBN 9780787663742.
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Party (law)
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