Definitions from Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition and Ballentine's Law Dictionary as are available for each term in each dictionary.
  • Ballentine's Law Dictionary

    A complaint in an equity suit; a statement; a proposed statute.

  • Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition

    A formal declaration, complaint or statement of particular things in writing. As a legal term, this word has many meanings and applications, the more important of which are enumerated below. 1. A formal written statement of complaint to a court of justice. In the ancient practice of the court of king's bench, the usual and orderly method of beginning an action was by a bill, or original bill, or-plaint. This was a written statement of the plaintiff's canse of action, like a declaration or complaint, and always alleged a trespass as the ground of it, in order to give the court jurisdiction. 3 Bl. Comm. 43. In Scotch law, every summary application in writing, by way of petition to the Court of Session, is called a "bill." Cent. Diet.
    —Bill chamber. In Scotch law. A department of the court of session in which petitions for suspension, interdict, etc., are entertained. It is equivalent to sittings in chambers in the English and American practice. Paters. Comp.
    —Bill of privilege. In old English law. A method of proceeding agninst attorneys and officers of the court not liable to arrest. 3 Bl. Comm. 289.
    —Bill of proof. In English practice. The name given, in the mayor's court of London, to a species of intervention by a third person laying claim to the subject-matter in dispute between the parties to a suit 2. A species of writ; a formal written declaration by a court to its officers, in the nature of process.
    —Bill of Middlesex. An old form of process similar to a capms, issued out of the court of king's bench in personal actions, directed to the sheriff of the county of Middlesex, (hence the name,) and commanding him to take the defendant and have him before the king at Westminster on a day named, to answer the plaintiff's complaint. State v. Mathews, 2 Brev (S. O.) 83: Sims v. Alderson, 8 Leigh (Va.) 484. 3. A formal written petition to a superior court for action to be taken in a cause already determined, or a record or certified account of the proceedings in such action or some portion thereof, accompanying such a petition.
    —Bill of advocation. In Scotch practice. A bill by which the judgment of an inferior court is appealed from, or brought under review of a superior. Bell.
    —Bill of certiorari. A bill, the object of which is to remove a suit in equity from some inferior court to the court of chancery, or some other superior court of equity, on account of some alleged incompetency of the inferior court, or some injustice in its proceedings. Story, Eq. PI. (5th Ed.) § 298.
    —Bill of exceptions. A formal statement in writing of the objections or exceptions taken by a party during the trial of a cause to the decisions, rulings, or instructions of the trial judge, stating the objection, with the facts and circumstances on which it is founded, and, in order to attest its accuracy, signed and sealed by the judge ; the object being to put the controverted rulings or decisions upon the record for the information of the appellate court. Ex parte Crane, 5 Pet. 193, 8 L. Ed. 92; Galvin v. State, 56 Ind. 56; Coxe v. Field, 13 N. J. Law, 218; Sackett v. McCord, 23 Ala. 854. 4. In equity practice. A formal written complaint, in the nature of a petition, addressed by a suitor in chancery to the chancellor or to a court of equity or a court having equitable jurisdiction, showing the names of the parties, stating the facts which make up the case and the complainant's allegations, averring that the acts disclosed are contrary to equity, and praying for process and for specific relief, or for such relief as the circumstances demand. U. S. v. Ambrose, 108 U. S. 336, 2 Sup. Ct. 682, 27 In Ed. 746; Feeney v. Howard, 79 CaL 525, 21 Pac. 984, 4 L. R. A. 826, 12 Am. St. Rep. 162; Sharon v. Sharon, 67 CaL 185, 7 Pan. 456. Bills are snid to be original, not original, or in the nature of original bills. They are original when the circumstances constituting the case are not already before the court, and relief is demanded, or the bill ls filed for a subsidiary purpose.
    —Bill for a new trial. A bill in equity in which the specific relief asked is an injunction against the execution of a judgment rendered at law and a new trial in the action, on account of some fact which would render it inequitable to enforce the judgment, but which was not available to the party on the trial at law, or which he was prevented from presenting by fraud or accident, without concurrent fraud or negligence on his own part.
    —Bill for foreclosure. One which is filed by a mortgagee against the mortgagor, for the purpose of having the estate sold, thereby to obtain the sum mortgaged on the premises, with interest and costs. 1 Madd. Ch. Pr. 528,
    —Bill in nature of a hill of review. A bill in equity, to obtain a re-examination and reversal of a decree, filed by one who was not a party to the original suit, nor bound by the decree.
    —Bill in nature of a hill of revivor. Where, on the abatement of a suit, there is such a transmission of the interest of the incapacitated party that the title to it, as well as the person entitled, may be the subject of litigation in a court of chancery, the suit cannot be continued by a mere bill of revivor, but an original bill upon which the title may be litigated must be filed. This is called a "bill in the nature of a bill of revivor." It is founded on privity of estate or title by the act of the party. And the nature and operation of the whole act by which the privity is created is open to controversy. Story, Eq. Pi. §§ 378-380 ; 2 Amer. & Eng. Enc. Law, 271.
    —Bill in nature of a supplemental bill. A bill filed when new parties, with new interests, arising from events happening since the suit was commenced, are brought before the court; wherein it differs from a supplemental bill, which is properly applicable to those cases only where the same parties or the same interests remain before the court. Story, Eq. Pi. (5th Ed.) § 345 et seq.
    —Bill of conformity. One filed by an executor or administrator, who finds the affairs of the deceased so much involved that he cannot safely administer the estate except under the direction of a court of chancery. This bill is filed against the creditors, generally, for the purpose of having ail their claims adjusted, and procuring a final decree settling the order of payment of the assets. 1 Story, Eq. Jur. § 440.
    —BUI of discovery. A bill in equity filed to obtain a discovery of facts resting in the knowledge of the defendant, or of deeds or writings, or other things in his custody or power. Story, Eq. PI. (5th Ed.) § 311; Wright v. Superior Court, 139 Cal. 469, 73 Pac. 145; Everson v. Assur. Co. (C. C.) 68 Fed. 258; State v. Savings Co, 28 Or. 410, 43 Pac. 162
    —Bill of information. Where a snit is instituted on behalf of the crowu or government, or of those of whom it has the custody by virtue of its prerogative, or whose rights are under its particular protection, the matter of complaint is offered to the court by way of information by the aitomey or solicitor general, instead of by petition. Where a suit immediately concerns the crown or government alone, the proceeding is purely by way of information, but, where it does not do so immediately, a relator is appointed, who is answerable for costs, etc., and, if he is interested in the matter in connection with the crown or government, the proceeding is by information and bill. Informations differ from bills in little more than name and form, and the same rules are substantially applicable to both. See Story, Eq. PI. 5; 1 Daniell, Ch. Pr. 2, 8, 288 ; 3 Bl. Comm, 261,
    —Bill of interpleader. The name of aHsill in equity to obtain a settlement of a question of right to money or other property adversely claimed, in which the party filing the bill has no interest, although it may be in his hands, by compelling such adverse claimants to litigate the right or title between themselves, and relieve him from liability or litigation. Van Winkle v. Owen. 54 N. J. Eq. 253, 34 Atl. 400; Wakeman v. Kingsland, 46 N. J. Eq. 113, 18 Atl. 680 ; Gibson v. Gold-thwaite, 7 Ala. 281, 42 Am. Dee, 592.
    —Bill of peace. One which is filed when a person has a right which may be controverted by various persons, at different times, and by different actions. Ritchie v. Dorland, 6 Cal. 33; Murphy v. Wilmington, 6 Houst. (Del.) 108, 22 Am. St. Rep. 345; Eldridge v. Hill, 2 Johns. Oh. (N. Y) 281; Randolph v. Kinney, 3 Rand. (Va.) 395.
    —Bill of revivor. One which is brought to continue a suit which has abated before its final consummation, as, for example, by death, or marriage of a female plaintiff. Clarke v. Mathewson, 12 Pet. 164, 9 In Ed. 1041; Brooks v. Laurent, 98 Fed. 647, 39 C. C. A. 201,
    —Bill of revivor and supplement. One which is a compound of a supplemental bill and bill of revivor, and not only continues the suit, which has abated by the death of the plaintiff, or the like, but supplies any defects in the original bill arising from subsequent events, so as to entitle the party to relief on the whole merits of his case. Mitf. Eq. Pi. 32, 74; Westcott v. Cady, 5 Johns Ch. (N. Y.) 342, 9 Am. Dec. 306; Bowie v. Minter, 2 Ain. 411.
    —BUI of review. One which is brought to have a decree of the court reviewed, corrected, or reversed. Dodge v. Northrop, 85 Mich. 248, 48 N. W. 505.
    —Bill quia timet. A bill invoking the aid of equity "because he fears," that is, because the complainant apprehends an injury to his property rights or interests, from the fault or neglect of another. Such bills are entertained to guard against possible or prospective injuries, and to preserve the means by which existing rights may be protected from future or contingent violations ; differing from injunctions, in that the latter correct past and present or imminent and certain injuries. Bisp. Eq. § 568 ; 2 Story, Eq. Jur. § 826 ; Bniley v. South-wick, 6 Lans. (N. Y.) 364; Bryant v. Peteis, 3 Ala. 169 ; Randolph v. Kinney, 3 Rand. (Vat) 898.
    —Bill to carry a decree into execution. One which is filed when, from the neglect of parties or some other cause, it may become impossible to carry a decree into execution without the further decree of the court. Hind, Ch. Pr. P8; Story, Eq. Pi. § 42,
    —Bill to perpetuate testimony. A bill in equity filed in order to procure the testimony of witnesses to be taken as to some matter not at the time before the courts, but which is likely at some future time to be in litigation. Story, Eq. Pi. (5th Ed.) § 300 et seq.
    —Bill to suspend a decree. One brought to avoid or suspend a decree under special circumstances.
    —Bill to take testimony de bene esse. One which is brought to take the testimony of witnesses to a fact material to the prosecution of a suit at law which is acfually commenced, where there is good cause to fear that the testimony may otherwise be lost before the time of trial. 2 Story, Eq. Jur. § 1813, n.
    —Cross-hill. One which is brought by a defendant in a suit agninst a plaintiff in or against other defendants in the same suit, or against both, touching the matters in question in the original bill. Story, Eq. PI. § 389; Mitf. Eq. Pi. 80. A cross-bill is a bill brought by a defendant against a plaintiff, or other parties in a former bill depending, touching the matter in question in that bill. It is usually brought either to obtain a necessary discovery of facts in aid of the defense to the original bill, or to obtain full relief to nil parties in reference to the matters of the original bill It is to be treated as a mere auxiliary suit. Shields v. Barrow, 17 How. 144, 15 In Ed. 158; Kidder v. Bare, 35 N. H. 251; Blythe v. Hinckley (C. G.) 84 Fed. 234. A cross-bill is a species of pleading, used for the purpose of obtaining a discovery necessary to the defense, or to obtain some relief founded on the collateral claims of the party defendant to the original suit. Tison v. Tison, 14 Ga. 167. Also, if a bill of exchange or'promissory note be given in consideration of another hill or note, it la called a "cross" or "counter" bill or note. 5. In legislation and constitutional law, the word means a draft of an act of the legislature before it becomes a law ; a proposed or projected law. A draft of an act presented to the legislature, but not enacted. An act is the appropriate term for it, after it has been acted on by, and passed by, the legislature. Southwark Bank v. Comm., 26 Pa. 450; Sedgwick County Com'rs v. Bailey, 13 Kan. 608; May v. Rice, 91 Ind. 549; State v. Hegeman. 2 Pennewill (Del) 147, 44 Atl. 621. Also a special act passed by a legislative body in the exercise of a quasi judicial power. Thus, bills of attainder, bills of pains and penalties, are spoken of.
    —Bill of attainder, see Attainder.
    —Bill of indemnity. In English law. An act of parliament, passed every session until 1869, but discontinued in and after that year, as having been rendered unnecessary by the passing of the promissory oaths act, 1868, for the relief of those who have unwittingly or unavoidably neglected to take the necessary oaths, etc., required for the purpose of qualifying them to hold their respective offices. Wharton.
    —Bill of pains and penalties. A special act of the legislature which inflicts a punishment, less than death, upon persons supposed to be guilty of treason or felony, without any conviction in the ordinary course of judicial proceedings. It differs from a bill of attainder in this: that the punishment inflicted by the latter is death.
    — Private hill. All legislative bills which have for their object some particular or private interest are so termed, as distinguished from such as are for the benefit of the whole community, which are thence termed "public bills." See People v. Chautauqua County, 43 N. Y. 17.
    —Private hill office. An office of the English parliament where the business of obtaining private acts of parliament is conducted. 6. A solemn and formal legislative declaration of popular rights and liberties, promulgated on certain extraordinary occasions, as the famous Bili of Rights in English history.
    —Bill of rights. A formal and emphatic legislative assertion and declaration of popular rights and liberties usually promulgated upon a change of government; particularly the statute 1 W. & M. St. 2, & 2. Also the summary of the rights and liberties of the people, or of the principles of constitutional law deemed essential and fundamental, contained in many of the American state constitutions.
    —Eason v. State, 11 Ark. 491; Atchison St. R. Co. v. Missouri Pac. R. Co., 31 Kan. 661, 3 Pac. 284; Orr v. Quimby, 54 N. H. 6l3. 7. In the law of contracts, an obligation; a deed, whereby the obligor acknowledges himself to owe to the obligee a certain sum of money or some other thing. It may be indented or poll, and with or without a penalty.
    —Bill obligatory. A bond absolute for the payment of money. It is called also a "single bill," and differs from a promissory note only in having a seal.
    —Bank v. Greiner, 2 Serg. & R. (Pat) 115.
    —Bill of debt. An ancient term including promissory notes and bonds for the payment or money. Co.m. Die. "Merchant," F. 2.
    —Bill penal. A written obligation by which a debtor acknowledges himself indebted in a certain sum, and binds himself for the payment thereof, in a larger sum, called a "penalty."
    —Bill single. A written promise to pay to a person or persons named a stated sum at a stated time, without any condition. When under seal, as is usually the case, it is sometimes called a "bili obligatory," (q. v.) It differs from a "bili penal," (g. v.,) in that it expresses no penalty. 8. In commercial law. A written statement of the terms of a contract, or specification of the items of a transaction or of a demand; also a general name for any item of indebtedness, whether receivable or payable. -Bill-book. In mercantile law. A book in which an account of bills of exchange and promissory notes, whether payable or receivable, is stated.
    —Bill-head. A printed form on which merchants and traders make out their bills and render accounts to their custo 9. In the law of negotiable instruments. A promissory obligation for the payment of money. Standing alone or without qualifying words, the term is understood to mean a bank note, United States treasury note, or other piece of paper circulating as money. Green v. State, 28 Tex. App. 493, 13 S. W. 785; Keith v. Jones, 9 Johns. (N. Y.) 121; Jones v. Fales, 4 Mass. 252.
    —Bill of exchange. A written order from A. to B., directing B. to pay to C. a certain sum of money therein named Byles, Bills, 1. An open (that is, unsealed) letter addressed by one person to another directing him, in effect, to pay, absolutely and at all events, a certain sum of money therein named, to a third person, or to any other to whom that third person may order it to be paid, or it may be payable to bearer or to the drawer himself. 1 Daniel, Neg. Inst. 27. A bill of exchange is an instrument, negotiable in form, by which one, who is .called the "drawee," requests another, called the "drawee," to pay a specified sum of money. Civil Code Cal. § 3171. A bill of exchange is an order by one person, called the "drawer" or "maker," to another, called the "drawee" or "acceptor," to pay money to another, (who may be the drawer himself,) called the "payee," or his order, or to the bearer. /If the payee, or a bearer, transfers the bill by indorsement, he then becomes the "indorser." If the drawer or drawee resides out of this state, it is then called a "foreign bili of exchange." Code Ga. 1882, § 2773.
    —Bill of credit. In constitutional law. A bill or promissory note issued by the government of a state or nation, upon its faith and credit, designed to circulate in the community as money, and redeemable at a fufure day. Briscoe v. Bank of Kentucky, 11 Pet. 271, 9 L. Ed. 709; Craig v. Missouri, 4 Pet. 431, 7 L. Eld. 903; Hale v. Huston, 44 Ala. 138, 4 Am. Rep. l24. In mercantile law. A license or authority given in writing from one person to another, very common among merchants, bankers, and those wbo travel, empowering a person to receive or take up money of their correspondents abroad.
    —Domestic hill of exchange. A bili of exchange drawn on a person residing in the same state with the drawer; or dated at a place in the state, and drawn on a person living within the state. It is the residence of the drawer and drawee which must determine whether a bili is domestic or foreign. Ragsdale v. Franklin, 25 Miss. 143.
    —Foreign hill of exchange. A bili of exchange drawn in one state or country, upon a foreign state or country. A bill of exchange drawn in one country upon another country not governed by the same homogeneous laws, or not governed throughout by the same municipal laws. A bill of exchange drawn in one of the United States upon a person residing in another state is a foreign bili. See Story, Bilis, § 22; 3 Kent, Comm. 94, note; Buckner v. Finley, 2 Pet 586, 7 L. Ed. 528; Duncan v. Course, 1 Mill, Const. (S. C.) 100; Phoenix Bank v. Hussey, 12 Pick. (Mass.) 484. 10. In maritime law. The term is applied to contracts of various sorts, but chiefly to bills of lading (see supra) and to bills of adventure (see infra.)
    —Bill of adventure. A written certificate by a merchant or the master or owner of a ship, to the effect that the property and risk in goods shipped on the vessel in his own name belong to another person, to whom he is account able for the proceeds alone.
    —Bill of gross adventure. In French maritime law. Any written instrument which contains a contract of bottomry, respondentia, or any other kind of maritime loan. There is no corresponding English term. Hall, Marit. Loans, 182, n.
    —Bill of health. An official certificate, given by the authorities of a port from which a vessel clears, to the master of the ship, showing the state of the port, as respects the public health, at the time of sailing, and exhibited to the authorities of the port which the vessel next makes, in token that she does not bring disease. If the bill alleges that no contagious or infectious disease existed, it is called a "clean" hill; if it admits that one was suspected or anticipated, or that one actually prevailed, it is called a "touched" or a "foul" bill. In revenue law and procedure, the term is given to various documento filed in or issuing from a custom house, principaliy of the sorts described below.
    —Bill of entry. An account of the goods entered at the custom house, both incoming and outgoing. It must state the name of the merchant exporting or importing, the quantity and species of merchandise, and whither transported, and whence.
    —Bill of sight. When an importer of goods is ignorant of their exact quantity or quality, so that he cannot make a perfect entry of them, he may give to the customs officer a written description of them, according to the bast of his information and belief. This is called a "bill of sight."
    —Bill of store. In English law. A kind of license granted at the custom-house to merchants, to carry such stores and provisions as are necessary for tbeir voyage, custom free. Jacob.
    —Bill of sufferance. In English law. A license granted at the custom-house to a merchant, to suffer him to trade from one English port to another, without paying custom. Co.well. 12. In criminal law, a bili of indictment, see infra.
    —Bill of indictment. A formal written document accusing a person or persons named of having committed a felony or misdemeanor, lawfully inid before a grand jury for their action upon it. If the grand jury decide that a trial ought to be had, they indorse on it "a true bili ;" if otherwise, "not a true bill" or "not found."
    —State v. Ray, Rice (S. C.) 4, 33 Am. Dec. 90.
    —Bill of appeal. An ancient, but now abolished, method of criminal prosecution. See Battel. 13. In common-law practice. An itemized statement or specification of particular details, especially items of cost or charge.
    —Bill of costs. A certified, itemized statement of the amount of costs in an action or suit. Doe v. Thompson, 22 N. H. 219. By the English usage, this term is applied to the statement of the charges and disbursements of an attorney or solicitor incurred in the conduct of his client's business, and which might be taxed upon application, even though not incurred in any suit. Thus, conveyancing costs might be taxed. Wharton.
    —Bill of particulars. In practice. A written statement or specification of the particulars of the demand for which an action at law is brought, or of a defendant's set-off against such demand, (including dates, sums, and items in detail,) furnished by one of the parties to the other, either voluntarily or in compliance with a judge's order for that purpose. 1 Tidd, Pr. 596-600; 2 Auhb. Pr. 221; Ferguson v. Ashbell, 53 Tex. 250; Baldwin v. Gregg, 13 Mete. (Mass.) 255. 14. In English law, a draft of a patent for a charter, commission, dignity, office, or appointment. Such a bill is drawn up in the attorney general's patent bili office, is submitted by a secretary ot state for the King's signature, when it is called the "King's bill," and is then countersigned by the secretary of state and sealed by the privy seal, and then the patent is prepared and sealed. Sweet.