Duhaime's Law Dictionary


In Limine Definition:

Latin: at the beginning or on the threshold.

In Bank of Nova Scotia v. Del Grande, Justice Grange of the Ontario Court of Appeal used these words:

"In limine is not an expression in common current use. It means simply preliminary."

A motion in limine is a motion that is tabled by one of the parties at the very beginning of the legal procedures and seeks to pull the rug out from under the feet of the other party. It may be, for example, to assert an application that the tribunal does not have jurisdiction.

In Blanks v Seyfarth, Justice Aldrich of the Court of Appeals of California adopted these words:

"In limine motions are designed to facilitate the management of a case, generally by deciding difficult evidentiary issues in advance of trial. The usual purpose of motions in limine is to preclude the presentation of evidence deemed inadmissible and prejudicial by the moving party. A typical order in limine excludes the challenged evidence and directs counsel, parties, and witnesses not to refer to the excluded matters during trial.  The advantage of such motions is to avoid the obviously futile attempt to unring the bell in the event a motion to strike is granted in the proceedings before the jury...

motion in limine"Although trial courts may exercise their inherent powers to permit nontraditional uses of motions in limine, when used in such fashion they become substitutes for other motions, such as summary judgment motions, thereby circumventing procedural protections provided by the statutory motions or by trial on the merits; they risk blindsiding the non-moving party; and, in some cases, they could infringe a litigant's right to a ... trial."

In a trial, a motion is often set before the judge in which a litigant seeks to exclude specific evidence. That motion is sometimes made at the very beginning of the trial and is referred to as a motion in limine.

They are difficult applications to succeed upon as the trial judge, at the in limine stage of trial, will not yet have much context to rule on the admissibility of evidence. Thus, these words of Justice Conlon of the United States District Court in Hawthorne:

"Unless evidence meets this high standard, evidentiary rulings should be deferred until trial so that questions of foundation, relevancy and potential prejudice may be resolved in proper context. Denial of a motion in limine does not necessarily mean that all evidence contemplated by the motion will be admitted at trial. Denial merely means that without the context of trial, the court is unable to determine whether the evidence in question should be excluded. The court will entertain objections on individual proffers as they arise at trial, even though the proffer falls within the scope of a denied motion in limine."

Another example of an in limine motion might be to stay the adjudication of a claim until the resolution of another, on which the claim for which a stay is being sought so extensively depends.

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