What does relief refer to in terms of a lawsuit?

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the context of civil law, the term “relief” refers to the lifting of some sort of unjust condition from the party that brings the suit.  When such a party wins a suit, it is given relief from the situation that it had been in.  Let us look at examples to understand what this means.

Let us say that a law tells a business that it must provide certain types of health insurance coverage to its employees.  Let us further say that the business feels that it should not be compelled to do so.  We can see an example of this in current events where some businesses feel that they should not be compelled to provide insurance plans that cover contraceptives because they are run by organizations that disapprove of birth control.  In such a case, the business might sue the government.  It might ask for relief from this law.  In this case, relief would constitute being absolved of the duty to obey this law which, in the firm’s eyes, is unjust.

Another example would be if two parties signed a contract and one party felt that it was defrauded.  It feels that the other side lied during the negotiations over the contract.  This party could then sue for relief.  In this case, relief would consist of being told that it did not have to abide by the terms of the contract.

Thus, relief means having the burden of an unjust circumstance lifted from you by the opinion of a court.

rienzi | Student

I am going to disagree with the above post . Relief refers to a party's specific request or objective in a court case. It may be money, it may be a divorce, it may be injunctive relief as suggested above. But relief doesn't just refer to a single request on an action. Many times there are multiple requests for relief as well as requests for many types of relief. So a request for an injunction may also ask for "attorneys fees and costs along with such other relief as the Court deems just" (to quote a typical prayer for relief clause that one may find in a complaint.) But there are  also motions and petitions that request relief. A discovery motion may seek to bar a Plaintiff from presenting expert testimony in a medical malpractice case because the Plaintiff failed to obtain and produce an expert and an experts report. Having barred the plaintiff from producing an expert at the last minute in a case, a defendant would then move for summary judgment requesting relief that the case be dismissed with prejudice. In short there are a myriad of requests for relief that can come up in the context of litigation. Relief also applies to administrative proceedings as well such as unemployment comp, the IRS, bankruptcy or an education due process hearing.