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Motion: Definition, Example and Related Terms

What is a Motion ?

Motion, in the context of commercial contracts and law, is a procedural device to bring a limited, contested issue before a court for decision. It's a request to the court (or judge) to make a decision about the case. So basically, it's like asking the teacher to decide who is right in an argument. Motions can be made at various points throughout civil and criminal procedures. They can be extremely helpful in managing a case, especially large complex commercial litigation cases. An example could be a motion to dismiss a case because it was filed in the wrong court or a motion to compel certain evidence to be produced. Motions help to identify issues, keep the case moving and can significantly influence the final outcome of the case. A well-drafted and well-argued motion often can end a dispute before it goes to trial. A poorly handled motion, on the other hand, can create unnecessary work, delay a case, and even lead to unfavorable outcomes.


  • Scenario Description
    Company A and Company B are involved in a contract dispute. Company A believes that Company B has breached the contract by not delivering the agreed-upon goods on time. Company A could file a motion for summary judgment. This is a request for the court to rule that the other party has no case, because there are no facts at issue. The company will argue that because the goods were not delivered on time as agreed in the contract, Company B is in breach. If the court grants the motion, it means that Company A has won the case without it needing to go to trial.
    Company X is suing Company Y. During the discovery process, Company Y refuses to provide certain documents that Company X believes are necessary for their case. Company X could file a motion to compel, which is a request to the court to force the other party to do something. In this case, Company X is asking the court to force Company Y to provide the documents. If the court grants the motion to compel, then Company Y must provide the documents or face penalties.

Related terms