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What is Abatement?

Updated on January 8, 2010

Abatement, in law, means discontinuation, cessation, destruction, or elimination. The term is used in several different contexts.

Abatement of an action is the cessation of a particular judicial proceeding because of some fact not affecting the merits of the controversy. The commonest grounds for abatement are the pendency of another suit or the death of a party. To abate a later suit, the pending suit must be in the same jurisdiction, with the same parties and legal issues. At common law, death of a party abated an action but did not necessarily extinguish the legal right on which it depended. Statutes in most U.S. states now provide that the action survives if the legal right survives. Other grounds for abatement of actions are defects of the parties (such as misnomer or incapacity); lack of jurisdiction of the court; dissolution of a corporation; premature commencement of an action; and transfer of a party's interest in the lawsuit.

Abatement of legacies means the destruction or reduction of certain bequests, by operation of law, where an estate's assets are insufficient.

Abatement of a nuisance means the elimination, whether by the party injured, or through suit instituted by him, of that which endangers life or health, gives offense to the senses, violates the laws of decency, or obstructs reasonable and comfortable use of property. The law allows an injured party to remove or destroy the nuisance personally, providing he does so without unnecessary destruction or breach of the peace.

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