Home Definition What Is A Motion Practice (Legal Definition)

What Is A Motion Practice (Legal Definition)

What is Motion Practice?

How do you legally define it?

What are the important elements you should know!

Keep reading as we have gathered exactly the information that you need!

Let’s dig into our legal dictionary!

Are you ready?

Let’s get started!

Motion Practice 

A motion practice is a request filed by a party to a lawsuit in order to request an order, ruling or relief on a particular issue.

A motion is a procedural request submitted to the court in accordance with the court’s rules of procedure on a contested or contentious matter.

The scope of the motion is to deal with a contested element within legal proceedings.

Typically, the motion does not deal with the matter on its merits.

A party filing a motion is referred to as the “movant” or “moving party” and the party opposing the motion is the “non-movant” or “non-moving party”.

When we say that there is “motion practice”, we are referring to the process where a party submits a request to the court, presents its arguments and hopes to get a court order or ruling on a specific issue.


Now, let’s look at the motion practice definition.

Our definition of motion practice, short and sweet, is:

A motion or request submitted to the court by a party seeking relief on a specific issue.

In essence, motion practice is a “request” made for the court to “rule” on something or render an “order”.

Filing a motion

For a party to seek relief from the court, a request must be made.

That request is called a “motion”.

Motion practice starts with a party drafting the motion (or motion papers) outlining the reason why the motion is being filed and detailing the nature of the relief sought from the court.

The motion must be served to the other party so they are made aware that the party seeking relief (moving party) is looking to get a ruling from the court.

The opposing party will have the opportunity to file a cross-motion or a motion to oppose the moving party’s application.

In that case, the non-moving party will file its own opposition or contestation for the court to consider.

Depending on the court rules, in some cases the court may render a judgment based on the written motions.

In other cases, the parties will have to attend a motion hearing where they will further explain their position and provide arguments as to why the court should rule in their favor.

Types of cases

Motion practice can be exercised in any type of legal case, such as:

  • Civil lawsuit
  • Criminal lawsuit 
  • Administrative proceedings

In most legal proceedings, the court rules provide for the mechanics of the types of motions that can be filed and how they should be filed.

It’s rare that opposing parties to a lawsuit fully agree on all procedural elements of the lawsuit.

As a result, it’s important for the courts to have a fair and proper mechanism allowing for disputes in the course of the advancement of the legal proceedings to be handled effectively while at the same time giving the opportunity to both parties to be heard.

Motion practice goes to the heart of allowing parties to a legal action or lawsuit to have a fair and equal opportunity to accomplish all the legal steps and milestones required to aspire to get a final judgment on merits.

Litigation strategy 

Motion practice is an important, if not crucial, aspect in the overall litigation strategy deployed by a party’s lawyer in a lawsuit.

If used strategically and in a thoughtful manner, a litigation lawyer can set the stage for a successful hearing on merits or a full settlement of the case.

The overall goal in legal case is to ensure the best and most appropriate legal representation for the client.

A litigation lawyer will need to evaluate the cost associated with motions practice along with the overall benefits derived from it.

Just because a motion can be filed and won in the short term does not mean that it’s the right thing to do.

On the other hand, if you are selective about what type of motion you intend to file, remain focused on your overall objective and address impactful issues, you can certainly help move the needle in your favor.

An effective motion filed at the right time and attacking the right aspects of the case can result in a significant positive outcome in a case.

The opposite is also true.

As a result, lawyers and parties are to use motion practice carefully and with specific objectives.

Procedural requirements 

What are the procedural requirements to consider when filing a motion or exercising motions practice?

Every court will define its rules governing how motions are filed, the deadlines and how the parties can be heard.

For example, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the Appellate Procedure Guide published by the court provides the following guidelines for motion practice:

  • Motion length and content
  • Statement regarding consent
  • Response length and content 
  • Response deadline 
  • Reply length and content
  • Reply deadline 
  • Format
  • Clerk orders
  • Court orders

The parties are required to follow these rules to ensure they follow the procedural laws associated with the filing of a motion, responses and possible replies.

For example, with regards to the motion length and content, the court requires that the motion remains below 5,200 words (20 pages).

A statement must also be made by counsel informing the court that the other party has been informed of the intended filing of the motion.

The response by the non-moving party must also remain within 5,200 words.

As you can see, the rules can get quite technical.

Legal language 

What are the most common types of legal terms or language used in motion practice?

Here are some terms that you are highly likely to see when dealing with motion practice:

  • Plaintiff’s motion 
  • Defendant’s motion
  • Filing of a motion 
  • Motion to dismiss 
  • Written motion 
  • Oral motion 
  • Pre-trial motion
  • Trial motion 
  • Judgment as a matter of law
  • Dismissed
  • Denied 
  • Quash 
  • Suspend
  • Suppress 


What are some examples of motion practice?

There are different types of motions that can be filed and motion practice possibilities in the context of a lawsuit.

Here are some common types of motions filed leading the parties to motions practice (pre-trial motions practice):

  • Motion for leave to file a late claim
  • Motion to dismiss 
  • Motion to compel 
  • Motion to suppress 
  • Motion to exclude evidence 
  • Discovery motions 


So what is the legal definition of Motion Practice?

How can we summarize the law and motion practice?

Let’s look at a summary of our findings.

Motion Practice:

  • Motion practice or motions practice is the steps taken by a party to seek relief from the court on a specific point of contention 
  • Every court will have its own rules of procedure governing the process of how the parties are to file a motion 
  • Litigation lawyers and trial lawyers may use effective motion practice to strategically prepare their case for trial and put all chances on their side
  • Just because a party can file a motion during the legal proceedings does not mean that it is the right thing to do
Motion to strike
Motion to dismiss 
Motion in Limine
Motion to Amend 
Motion to Compel
Motion To Compel Discovery
Motion to Consolidate
Motion to quash 
Motion to suspend 
Oral arguments
Motion for summary judgment 
Editorial Staffhttps://lawyer.zone
Hello Nation! I'm a lawyer and passionate about law. I've practiced law in a boutique law firm, worked in a multi-national organization and as in-house counsel. I've been around the block! On this blog, I provide you with golden nuggets of information about lawyers, attorneys, the law and legal theories. Enjoy!


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