Glossary of Terms

Summons and Complaint

A summons is a paper issued by a court informing a person that a complaint has been filed against them. It may be served by a sheriff or other authorized person for service of process, called a process server. The summons states the name of both plaintiff and defendant, the title and file number of the case, the court and its address, the name and address of the plaintiff?s attorney, and instructions on how to file a required response to the complaint within a certain time.


Litigation, case, an action or process in a court for the recovery of a right or claim.


A formal utterance of an authoritative opinion.

Lien of collections

Garnishment of Wages is a means of collecting a monetary judgment against a defendant by ordering a third party (the garnishee) to pay money, otherwise owed to the defendant, directly to the plaintiff. In the case of collecting for taxes, the law of a jurisdiction may allow for collection without a judgment or other court order.

Process Server

Server of summons: somebody who serves a writ or summons ordering somebody to appear in court.


Also known as a claimant or complainant, it is the term used in some jurisdictions for the party who initiates a lawsuit (also known as an action) before a court. In other words, someone who tries to sue.


Impose tax: to use government authority to impose or collect a tax.

Praecipe or Precipie

Latin: A document from the client containing detailed instructions on where to levy or garnish. This formally written request accompanies and formally asks for the writ to be issued by the court officer, or asks the court to take some other filing or procedural action.

Trustee Sale

A Trustee?s Sale is a public auction that is open to all bidders and the property is usually awarded to the highest bidder who meets all the criteria set by the Trustee.


A Trustee is an individual or company chosen to administer the assets of the beneficiary and facilitate the foreclosure process.


Failure to satisfy the terms of a loan obligation or failure to pay back a loan.

Default Judgment

A default judgment results when a complaint or petition is filed with the court and the defendant or respondent does not answer the complaint or petition.


A specific legal process in which a lender attempts to recover the balance of a loan from a borrower who has stopped making payments to the lender by forcing the sale of the asset used as the collateral for the loan.


Written court order: a written court order demanding that the addressee do or stop doing whatever is specified in the order.


Accused party: a person or company required to answer charges in a court.