Home Definition What is Plea in Bar (Legal Definition And Examples)

What is Plea in Bar (Legal Definition And Examples)

What is Plea in Bar?

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!

Understanding Plea in Bar

A plea in bar (also known as a peremptory plea) is a legal term used to refer to a pleading document or answer filed by a defendant in a lawsuit aimed at defeating the action fully and in its entirety.

The objective of this plea is to convince the court that there are no legal grounds justifying the holding of a trial to hear the plaintiff’s action.

In other words, it’s a defensive move aimed at barring the plaintiff’s action and avoiding a trial.

This type of defensive plea or strategy can be used in criminal proceedings as well as civil proceedings.

The burden of establishing the grounds of defense raised in the plea rests with the defendant or the party raising the argument.

Litigators can use the plea in bar strategy and achieve great results in the same way as moving for a summary judgment.

Depending on the procedural rules applicable to the case, the court may:

  • Hear matters outside of the pleadings when dealing with pleas in bar
  • Take evidence in a trial-like manner and even submit issues to a jury 
  • Potentially accept depositions and affidavits as supporting evidence (unlike in cases where you file a motion for summary judgment)

Plea in Bar definition

How do you define plea in bar?

According to The Law Dictionary, a plea in bar is defined as:

An answer given by the defendant which completely defeats all actions/ charges levied by the plaintiff.

In common law, pleas in bar are also known as peremptory pleas.

In essence, a plea in bar is a defensive type of pleading where the defendant lays out the grounds why trial cannot proceed.

Criminal proceedings

In criminal law, a plea in bar is a pleading filed by the defendant in court aimed at defeating the prosecutor’s action.

For example, an accused who may have made a confession and avoidance that is not admissible under a not guilty plea is considered a plea in bar.

The common law also provides for plea in bar.

Examples of common law plea in bar are the autrefois convict, autrefois acquit and the plea of pardon.

Civil law proceedings 

In civil proceedings, the plea in bar argument can be raised by the defendant to avoid trial.

Typical arguments are the following:

  • Statute of limitations barring the plaintiff’s action
  • Res judicata
  • Accord and satisfaction 
  • Statute of frauds 

Special plea in bar vs general plea in bar

To fully define the term plea in bar, it’s worth distinguishing a special plea in bar from a general plea in bar.

A special plea in bar refers to a plea aimed at barring or preventing future actions.

On the other hand, a general plea in bar is a plea aimed at denying key allegations in the plaintiff’s current action against the defendant.


Pleas in bar set out legal grounds why the plaintiff’s action should be dismissed or denied.

Let’s look at some examples to better illustrate the concept.

Example 1: Statute of limitations

A defendant may file for a plea in bar when the plaintiff’s action should be denied on the basis of the statute of limitations has lapsed.

Example 2: Constitutional protections

Another example where a defendant may invoke a plea in bar against the plaintiff’s action is when the action violates constitutionally protected rights.


So what is the legal definition of Plea in Bar?

Let’s look at a summary of our findings.

Plea in Bar:

  • Plea in bar is a pleading document or plea filed by the defendant against the plaintiff’s action
  • It’s objective is to fully defeat the plaintiff’s action and avoid having a trail
  • Litigators use this procedure as a defensive strategy in lawsuits
  • This type of argument can be invoked in civil lawsuits and criminal lawsuits 
Craving oyer 
Demurrer to plea
Plea affirmative 
Plea Bargain
Plea dilatory 
Plea in Abeyance
Plea in Confession and Avoidance
Plea in Discharge
Plea in Justification
Plea in Reconvention
Plea in Suspension
Plea negative 
Plea of never indebted
Voir dire
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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