relief – an award of damages or a judgment, decree, or order requiring an adversary to perform as directed or to refrain from specified conduct

     This page is continued from Civil Law Self-Help >>>> Section 3: Which form(s) of relief are you seeking from the court to help remedy the situation?:



1. The redress or benefit, especially equitable in nature (such as an injunction or specific performance), that a party asks of a court. — aka remedy. [1]

1. The objective of an action, proceeding, or motion; an award of damages or a judgment, decree, or order requiring an adversary to perform as directed or to refrain from specified conduct.  As defined in the Federal Administrative Procedure Act: — the whole or part of any agency

(1) grant of money, assistance, license, authority, exemption, exception, privilege or remedy;
(2) recognition of any claim, right, immunity, privilege, exemption, or exception; or
(3) taking any other action upon the application or petition of, and beneficial to, any person. 5 USC § 1001(f).

Public aid to persons who are destitute and unable to support and maintain themselves. 41 Am J1st Poor L §§ 13 et seq.

      Anciently called “relevium,” — an incident to every feudal tenure, by way of fine or composition with the lord for taking up the estate, which was lapsed or fallen in by the death of the last tenant.  Although reliefs originated while feuds were only life estates, they continued after feuds became hereditary, and hence were justly regarded as one of the heaviest grievances of tenure; especially when they were, as at first, merely arbitrary and at the will of the lord; so that if he demanded an exorbitant relief, the heir was disinherited.  See 2 Bl Comm 65.

     “The relation of the heriot to the relief has been one of the chief battle-fields on which the light of different theories of the early law has been waged. The date of the origin of the heriot has been material only as bearing upon this; and most of those who have studied the subject do not doubt their identity, or at least that it was upon the “plan of the heriots that the Norman Conqueror fashioned his plan of relief, as Blackstone says. (Cf. 2 Bl Comm 423.) See Hammond’s Blackstone.
See poor person; welfare. [2]

1. A person’s object in bringing a lawsuit; the function or purpose of a remedy.

2. Public assistance.

3. The lessening or alleviation of pain, oppression, or other distress. [3]

Various Classifications of Relief:

affirmative relief – a court order requiring the losing party to act in a specified manner or desist from specified conduct, or relief sought by a defendant by raising a counterclaim or cross-claim that could have been maintained independently of the plaintiff’s action.

alternative relief – a request, in a pleading, asking for both specific performance, and damages that would be averted by specific performance. — aka prayer for alternative relief. Fed. R. Civ. P 8(a).

coercive relief (1886) Judicial relief, either legal or equitable, in the form of a personal command to the defendant that is enforceable by physical restraint. [1]

declaratory relief – request a court to determine the legal status or ownership of a thing.

  • declaratory judgment – declares conclusively the rights, duties, or status of the parties, but orders no executory or coercive relief. — aka declaratory decree; declaration.

extraordinary relief – exceeds what is typically or customarily granted but is warranted by the unique or extreme circumstances of a situation.

  • extraordinary writs – issued by a court exercising unusual or discretionary power; used for providing extraordinary remedies. — aka (historically) prerogative writs.
    • writ of mandamus – issued to compel performance of a particular act by a lower court or a governmental officer or body, usually to correct a prior action or failure to act.
    • writ of habeas corpus – command that a prisoner (or detainee or probatee) be brought before the court to challenge the legality of their custody and demand their release. — aka great writ.

interim relief (1886) Relief that is granted on a preliminary basis before an order finally disposing of a request for relief. 

therapeutic relief (1889) The relief, especially in a settlement, that requires the defendant to take remedial measures as opposed to paying damages.  *  An example is a defendant-corporation (in an employment-discrimination suit) that agrees to undergo sensitivity training. — Often shortened to therapeutics.



Disclaimer: All material throughout this website is compiled in accordance with Fair Use.

[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations Third Edition by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.


Back to Legal Terms pertaining to Types of Remedies

Back to Section 3: Are you seeking damages, injunctive relief, or both?

Back to Civil Law Self-Help

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