in law, statement of a party's claims or defenses to another party's claims in a civil action

Pleadings are formal written statements filed with a court by parties in a civil action (other than motions, which seek immediate resolution of issues), in law as practiced in countries that follow the English models. By stating what claims and defenses are at issue, pleadings establish the issues to be decided by the court.


Quotes reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 195-196.
  • Let us stand by the rules of pleading, which if we infringe here, we may destroy altogether.
    • Eyre, C.J., Jones v. Kitchin (1797), 2 Bos. & Pull. 81.
  • Pleading is an exact setting forth of the truth.
    • Sir Robert Atkyns, L.C.B., Trial of Sir Edw. Hales (1686), 11 How. St. Tr. 1243.
  • I hate and detest all frivolous pleas; but I never will make too much haste, in determining matters which may be of consequence to the subject.
    • Lee, C.J., The King v. Mayor of Heydon and others (1748), 1 Black. 35.
  • De puys ke vous ne volet respondre a leu verement ke ye vous tendent . . . nous le tenum agrante: Since you will not answer to the averment which they offer to you … we take it for granted.
    • Beresford, J., Roger de Montgomery v. Simon de C. (1292), Year-book, 20 & 21 Ed. I., p. 276.
  • Wherever a man neglects to take advantage of any defence which he has at the time, he waives it.
    • Buller, J., Buxton v. Mardin (1785). 1 T. R. 81.
  • A plaintiff who comes into a Court of justice must show that he is in a condition to maintain his action.
  • The difficulty which I feel as a Judge, and always felt at the Bar, is this: a defendant is entitled to put his back against the wall and to fight from every available point of advantage.
    • Kekewich, J., Blank v. Footman & Co. (1888), 57 L. J. (N. S.) C. D. 914.
  • Each plea must stand or fall by itself.
    • Buller, J., Kirk v. Nowill (1786), 1 T. R. 125.
  • Il serroit mervaillouse chose que vous avendrez a dedire et contrepleder cco qe vous avez avant grante en Court de recorde: It would be a strange thing if you could be admitted to deny and counterplead that which you have previously allowed in a Court of record.
    • Schardelowe, J., Writ of Entry sur disseisin against C. (1340), Yearbook, 14 Ed. HI, p. 40.
  • Good matter must be pleaded in good form, in apt time, and in due order, or otherwise great advantage may be lost.
    • Co. Litt. 303 a.
  • The substantial rules of pleading are founded in strong sense, and in the soundest and closest logic; and so appear, when well understood and explained : Though, by being misunderstood and misapplied, they are often made use of as instruments of chicane.
    • Lord Mansfield, Robinson v. Raley (1756), 1 Burr. 319; also discussed in Hale's Common Law, Vol. I. (ed. 1794), p. 302, n.
  • In these days if there is a question to be decided on the evidence before the Court, we are not inclined to restrict the suitor very closely to the pleadings.
    • Cotton, L.J., White v. City of London Brewery Co. (1889), L. R. 42 C. D. 246.
  • I am sorry when any man is tripped by a formal objection.
    • Park, J., Aked v. Stocks (1828), 4 Bing. 509.
  • His father was a man of that strictness of conscience, that he gave over the practice of the law, because he could not understand the reason of giving colour in pleadings, which, as he thought, was to tell a lye. And that, with some other things commonly practised, seemed to him contrary to that exactness of truth and justice, which became a Christian, so that he withdrew himself from the Inns of Court to live on his estate in the country.
    • Bishop Burnet, on Sir Matthew Hale.
Wikipedia has an article about: