Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Notice of Motion Definition:

A formal notice to participants in litigation of an intent to seek specific relief in an action.

An advisory in writing, usually in a prescribed form, to all parties in litigation of an intent, at some specified or future time, of asking the Court to order specified relief. The notice of motion is written in the form of a request to the court to order something; often interlocutory relief.

Literally, it is a notice of a request to be made of the court.

In Baldwin, Justice Hudgins wrote:

"The notice of motion ... notifies the defendant when and where he is to appear, and sets forth the complaint."

The party making the notice of motion can be referred to by their name in the litigation (plaintiff, petitioner, defendant and the like) or in reference to their standing as regards the notice of motion, the Applicant. Similarly, the person who is targeted by the notice of motion may be called the Respondent.

As with all requests to a court of law for intervention and relief as between parties to litigation, the notice of motion would normally require some supporting evidence, usually an affidavit.

Some jurisdictions require the notice of motion to specify a date and time of hearing. Other jurisdictions allow the evidence phase behind any notice of motion to play itself out before the party issuing the notice of motion can set it down for hearing, bring it to the court for a decision.

The motion is much like a motion made in the context of a business meeting in putting forward a proposed decision to be decided upon, except that in a court of law, the presiding officer and decision-maker is the judge. Nor does a motion in the context of a notice of motion before a court of law, require a seconder.

Even if filed, a notice of motion is not a document with any judicial weight:

"... A notice of motion is but a paper in the hands of the party who gives it and does not belong to the court until the motion is made."1

In urgent matters, a judge will occasionally endorse a notice of motion as a formal written record of his or her decision, to serve until a more formal court order can be drafted and signed.


  • Ayers v Kemper 48 F. (2d) 11 (1931; note 1)
  • Baldwin v Norton Hotel 175 S.E. 751 (1934, Supreme Court of Virginia)

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