Legal Abuse: Definition and Meaning

Legal abuse can also result from the behaviour of persons involved in the legal system during an otherwise valid hearing, such as a lawyer who has a close relationship with a judge and utilises that relationship to influence the judge's decision. The use of legal threats of action as a form of intimidation against another person is another example of legal abuse. Being threatened with legal action against someone who is financially vulnerable is extremely abusive because the person being threatened frequently fears the financial burdens associated with a court battle.

What is the Meaning of Legal Abuse?

Legal abuse is defined as the use of the legal system to intentionally create emotional suffering in another person, whether that legal abuse takes the form of a threat to file a lawsuit or occurs during a hearing or case that would otherwise be legal. Although it is not often physical, this kind of abuse is mostly psychological and emotional in nature. Yet, it might result in bodily effects due to inappropriate legal decisions. Legal abuse can also result in a mental condition something resembling post-traumatic stress disorder, when a person feels helpless and has lingering psychological damage.

Forms of Legal Abuse

Domestic or family violence is one of the form of legal abuse. Legal abuse can take a variety of forms and it may include −

  • The use of the legal system to annoy or distress another person is one of the most prevalent and potentially damaging types of legal abuse.

  • The use of legal threats of action as a form of intimidation against another person.

  • Destroying records that may be used as proof against a violent offender.

  • Self-representation can result in issues including letting people communicate to persons they wouldn't otherwise be able to, filling out paperwork incorrectly, and running up significant legal costs for the opposite party.

  • Intentionally creating delays, contesting judgements, withholding information, and switching attorneys.

Impact of Legal Abuse

Legal Abuse Syndrome, which is a term used to describe the emotional anguish that can come from this type of abuse. Legal Abuse Syndrome is frequently viewed as a kind of trauma that affects a person for a while after the primary abuse occurrence has stopped. Someone who experiences vexatious litigation as a result of legal abuse may come to dislike attorneys or the legal system as a whole. Due to emotions of powerlessness, this may develop paranoia or melancholy and may ultimately make the legal issue that started the abuse worse.

Misuse of Law

Protecting an individual's life, liberty, and property against arbitrary interference by a person, group, or government is the primary goal of the law. Yet, it has been noted that the same law is abused to bully the person legally in order to harass and control them. We can tackle the intricate issues facing our society with the aid of the court system and the legal system. But, occasionally individuals threaten others with the law in an effort to prevent them from continuing with their lives.

In numerous instances, it has been observed that the law has been misused to be unfair to the individual and for improper legal action brought with selfish or malicious intentions, and these are −

SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act of 1989

The SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Acts were passed with the intention of outlawing prejudice, preventing atrocities, and combating hate crimes against SC/ST. Yet, it has been noted that the act is also abused by research academics and lower-level employees against their superiors and senior employees to intimidate them when they expect high-quality work.

In this case, the act's goal is to safeguard the weaker members of society, although it is occasionally used as a tool against superiors who demand higher standards of work. In the case of Vishnu Tiwari v. The State of Uttar Pradesh, where he was sentenced to jail in 2001 after being found guilty of rape and violating the SC/ST Act in 2003, the misuse of this statute was evident. But, when the matter finally came before the Allahabad High Court bench after over seventeen years, they determined that the accusations against him were false and acquitted him.

Misuse of Section 498-A IPC

The purpose of section 498-A of the IPC, which was adopted in 1983, is to protect women who are being mistreated by their husbands or the relatives of their husbands, as well as to uphold the rights and promote the empowerment of women. However it is undeniable that women utilise this part to make untrue accusations against their husbands in order to obtain money, become pregnant outside of marriage, satisfy a demand, or just to defame the husband's family.

Misuse of Section 306 IPC

Another legislation designed to protect people's lives is Section 306 of the IPC (Abetment of Suicide), which makes it illegal for anybody to encourage another person to commit suicide. Yet, it is frequently observed that those who were charged under this clause did it primarily for harassing and retaliation purposes.

Misuse of Section 375 IPC

Section 375 of the IPC is intended to protect women by discouraging a man from committing rape, whereas Section 354 of the IPC protects women from the men's outrage of their modesty.

The legislation's main goal is to protect women from sexual assault. Yet, because the victim's confession is sufficient to establish a conviction, women use this conduct as a weapon against males in order to extort money from them, blackmail them into marriage, and exact retribution. Men in our culture are quite concerned about how women use their gender as a weapon.


A miscarriage of justice is the primary effect of legal abuse. It arises when, as in the aforementioned situations, a criminal or civil action results in a blatantly unjust decision. It causes harm to people in many different ways, including the criminal defence of the innocent, psychological stress, which has a negative impact on physical health, and it places a huge weight on the poor person who could not afford the expense of legal defence. Another type of unfairness is when a person's case is unduly drawn out by abusing the law, which was put in place to defend people's rights.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is the abuse of legal process in tort?

Ans. Malicious prosecution in tort law is defined as the improper use of the legal system to bring such charge.

Q2. What are examples of abuse of legal process?

Ans. The most frequent aspect of court process abuse is the inappropriate use of the legal system by a party in a lawsuit, with several actions on the same problems between the same parties and multiple actions between the same parties in other courts being the most prevalent.

Q3. What is the misuse or abuse of law?

Ans. Using one’s position for a purpose for which it was not intended, is what is meant by misuse or abuse. It's possible for such abuse to be committed via dishonest or unlawful methods, as well as other methods.

Updated on: 03-Apr-2023


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