Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Sine Die Definition:

Latin: without a day. Taken to mean without fixing a day for continuation.

Related Terms: Stay, Sine Qua Non

Typically, an adjournment without any return date. In effect, an adjournment sine die can be as consequential to litigation as an outright dismissal. But an adjournment sine die has the distinct disadvantage of offering no finality to litigation; the action just sits there as adjourned indefinitely. This is particularly worrisome if the matter is a criminal or bankruptcy matter where a litigant wants finality to the charge hanging over him/her. For this reason and for judicial and the integrity of court registry, it is generally discouraged.

Often, a court will adjourn sine die but make the matter returnable on some condition, such as seven-days notice. One useful application of an adjournment sine die is when a lawyer suddenly leaves a complex case in the middle or commencement of a hearing (eg. significant injury or death). A Court may adjourn the matter to a set date or may prefer to, at least initially, adjourn without setting any precise date to resume the hearing (i.e. sine die).

In his 1856 book, Thomas Tayler presented the Latin expression as meaning:

"SINE DIE. Without day; as 'the Court adjourned sine die' - no day being mentioned for sitting again."

John Ballentine, in his 1969 (3rd Edition) Law Dictionary proposed this definition:

"Sine die: without day; finally; without any time set for further consideration."

In 13 Geogia State University Law Review (1996), the editors used this definition:

"Sine die refers to a session that has been adjourned or postponed indefinitely."

Adjourned indefinitely - without setting any future date of meeting or hearing.

A court that adjourns sine die essentially sets the hearing off to no date whatsoever!

A meeting which adjourns sine die has simply not set a date for it's next meeting.

Adjourning sine die can be tantamount to putting something away forever.


    • Civil Practice, Criminal Procedure, 13 GSULR 31 (1996-1997)
    • Tayler, Thomas, The Law Glossary (London: Lewis & Blood, 1856), page 490.

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