- A judicial proceeding, either in law or in equity, to obtain relief at the hands of a court. A judicial remedy for the enforcement or protection of a right, or a legal proceeding in which a plaintiff claims against a defendant or fund the enforcement of some obligation toward the plaintiff which is binding upon the defendant or the fund. A prosecution in a court by one party against another party for the enforcement or protection of a right, the redress or prevention of a wrong, or the punishment of a public offense, without regard to the particular form of the procedure. 1 Am J2d Actions § 4. The term is inclusive of cause of action or right of action, as well as a pending action, in a statute providing for the survival of an action. 1 Am J2d, Abat & R § 1. In several jurisdictions, for example, New York, an action, which is commenced by the service of summons, is distinct under statute from a proceeding which is commenced by petition and notice. In some jurisdictions it is expressly provided by statute that the word "action," as used in the statute of limitations, shall include a special proceeding of a civil nature. 34 Am J1st Lim Ac § 112. A distinction has been drawn between the word "action," as importing the right or power to enforce an obligation, and the word "suit"' which imports the pursuit of the remedy by which the right is enforced. 1 Am J2d Actions § 4. The word "action" standing alone might reasonably be held not to include a criminal prosecution, but when the word "proceeding" is added, a combination is presented which is well near inclusive of all forms of litigation. United States v P. F. Collier & Son Corp. (CA7 Ind) 208 F2d 936, 40 ALR2d 1389. The view has been taken that where the reference in a statute concerning corporate existence following dissolution is for the purpose of permitting " suits" or "actions" to be instituted or maintained against the dissolved corporation, such words are to be construed as applying only to civil litigation and not to criminal prosecutions. Anno: 40 ALR2d 1397. In French, the term "action" includes a share of stock in a corporation or joint stock company and the certificate representing the ownership thereof.
Ballentine's law dictionary. Anderson, W.S.. 1998.