What is Pleading?

Alternative Forms: Pleadings
Legal Definition
Pleading in England and Wales is covered by the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR). These rules set a high priority on attempts to resolve all matters able to be resolved by the parties, prior to hearing (or trial).

The pleadings are contained in various Statements of Case - usually the Claim and any associated Particulars of Claim, the Defence, and an optional reply to the Defence. The Claim, Particulars of Claim, and Defence, are broadly equivalent to the Summons, Complaint and Answer filed in some other jurisdictions). The pleadings set out succinctly the claims made by each side, and their legal basis, and provide a basis to explore the issues in the case. They must specify the basic facts which are alleged, but need not evidence those facts or any extensive legal argument (these are addressed at later stages of the process). Some types of allegation must be expressly stated in the appropriate statement of case, if they will be alleged or relied upon at a later stage.
-- Wikipedia
Legal Definition
Pleading is the beginning stage of a lawsuit in which parties formally submit their claims and defenses. The plaintiff submits a complaint stating the cause of action -- the issue or issues in controversy. The defendant submits an answer stating his or her defenses and denials. The defendant may also submit a counterclaim stating a cause of action against the plaintiff. Pleadings serve an important function of providing notice to the defendant that a lawsuit has been instituted concerning a specific controversy or controversies. It also provides notice to the plaintiff of the defendant's intentions in regards to the suit.

Old common law rules of pleading were complicated and rigourous. Meritorious complaints were often thrown out of court for technical flaws in form rather than substance. Today, in most if not all states, a pleading must no longer conform to archaic formats but may be a simple petition or complaint setting forth the relevant facts and asking for a remedy.

Pleadings are part of a larger category of procedural rules. In state court, pleadings are generally governed by state procedural rules (for example, see California's rules - Title VI ). In federal court, pleadings are generally governed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (See Rules 7-12).
Legal Definition
Practice. The statement in a logical, and legal form, of the facts which constitute the plaintiff's cause of action, or the defendant's ground of defence; it is the formal mode of alleging that on the record, which would be the support, or the defence of the party in evidence. 8 T. R. 159; Dougl. 278; Com. Dig. Pleader, A; Bac. Abr. Pleas and Pleading; Cowp. 682-3. Or in the language of Lord Coke, good pleading consists in good matter pleaded in good form, in apt time, and due order. Co. Lit. 303. In a general sense, it is that which either party to a suit at law alleges for himself in a court, with respect to the subject-matter of the cause, and the mode in which it is carried on, including the demand which is made by the plaintiff; but in strictness, it is no more than setting forth those facts or arguments which show the justice or legal sufficiency of the plaintiff's demand, and the defendant's defence, without including the statement of the demand itself, which is contained in the declaration or count. Bac. Abr. Pleas and Pleading.

2. The science of pleading was designed only to render the facts of each party's case plain and intelligible, and to bring the matter in dispute between them to judgment. Steph. Pl. 1. It is, as has been well observed, admirably calculated for analyzing a cause, and extracting, like the roots of an equation, the true points in dispute; and referring them with all imaginable simplicity, to the court and jury. 1 Hale's C. L. 301, n

3. The parts of pleading have been considered as arrangeable under two heads; first, the regular, or those which occur, in the ordinary course of a suit; and secondly, the irregular, or collateral, being those which are occasioned by mistakes in the pleadings on either side.

4. The regular parts are, 1st. The declaration or count. 2d. The plea, which is either to the jurisdiction of the court, or suspending the action, a's in the case of a parol demurrer, or in abatement, or in bar of the action, or in replevin, an avowry or cognizance. 3d . The replication, and, in case of an evasive plea, a new assignment, or in replevin the plea in bar to the avowry or cognizance. 4th. The rejoinder, or, in replevin, the replication to the plea in bar. 5th. The sur-rejoinder, being in replevin, the rejoinder. 6th. The rebutter. 7th. The sur-rebutter. Vin. Abr. Pleas and Pleading, C; Bac. Abr. Pleas and Pleadings, A. 8th. Pleas puis darrein continuance, when the matter of defence arises pending the suit.

6. The irregular or collateral parts of Pleading are stated to be, 1st. Demurrers to Illly art of the pleadings above mentioned. 2dly. Demurrers to evidence given at trials. 3dly. Bills of exceptions. 4thly. Pleas in scire facias. And, 5thly. Pleas in error. Vin. Abr. Pleas and Pleadings, C.; Bouv. Inst. Index, h. t.
-- Bouviers Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
The peculiar science or system of rules and principles, established in the common law, according to which the pleadings or responsive allegations of litigating parties are framed, with a view to preserve technical propriety and to produce a proper issue. The process performed by the parties to a suit or action, in alternately presenting written statements of their contention, each responsive to that which precedes, and cach serving to narrow the field of controversy, until there evolves a single point, affirmed on one side and denied on the other, called the "issue," upon which they then go to trial. The act or step of interposing any one of the pleadings in a cause, but particularly one on the part of the defendant; and, in the strictest sense, one which sets up allegations of fact in defense to the action. The name "a pleading" ls also given to any one of the formal written statements of accusation or defense presented by the parties alternately in an action at law; the aggregate of such statements filed in any one cause are termed "the pleadings." The oral advocacy of a client's cause In court, by his barrister or counsel, ls sometimes called "pleading;" but this ls a popular, rather than technical, use. In chancery practice. Consists in making the formal written allegations or statements of the respective parties on the record to maintain the suit, or to defeat it, of which, when contested in matters of fact, they propose to offer proofs, and in matters of law to offer argumenis to the court. Story, Eq. PI. § 4, note.
See also
-- Black's Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
The pleadings are the formal allegations by the parties of their respective claims and defenses, for the judgment of the court Co.de Civ. Proc. Cal. f 420. The individual allegations of the respective parties to an action at common law, proceeding from them alternately, in the order and under the distinctive names following: The plaintiff's declaration, the defendant's plea, the plaintiff's replication, the defendant's rejoinder, the plaintiff's surrejoinder, the defendant's rebutter, the plaintiff's surrebutter; after which they have no distinctive names. Burrill. The term "pleadings" has a technical and well-defined meaning. Pleadings are written allegations of what is affirmed on the one side, or denied on the other, disclosing to the court or jury having to try the cause the real matter in dispute between the parties. Desnoyer v. Ilereux, 1 Minn. 17 (Gil. 1).
-- Black's Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
The act of presenting one or more of the pleadings before the court; the science of preparing pleadings. See 36 Mo. App. 594.
-- Ballentine's Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
The allegations made by the parties to a civil or criminal case, for the purpose of definitely presenting the issues to be tried. See 151 U. S. 164, 38 L. Ed. 112, 14 Sup. Ct. Rep. 299.
-- Ballentine's Law Dictionary