Terminology 101: How To Reference Parties in Civil Litigation
Various terminology is used in legal actions to refer to parties, such as, “plaintiff/petitioner/complainant/claimant/defendant/appellant/respondent…” So what do they mean?
There are subtle differences between the use of these terms.
Plaintiff: A Plaintiff is usually the person who files a legal action against a Defendant.
Defendant: A Defendant is usually the person who is alleged to have engaged in unlawful conduct by the Plaintiff.
Claimant: An arbitration is an alternative to a trial in a courtroom. The Plaintiff is referred to in arbitration as the Claimant. Petitioner: A Petitioner is typically the person who files a petition against a Respondent seeking some sort of immediate relief from a tribunal.
Respondent: A Defendant in an arbitration is referred to as a Respondent. However, a Respondent can be either a Plaintiff or Defendant in an appeal from the lower court, depending on who won the case. A person becomes a Respondent when the losing party (Appellant) from the initial case appeals from the decision of the lower court.
Appellant: the party initiating an appeal.