bill, n.

1. A formal written complaint, such as a court paper requesting some specific action for reasons alleged.

2. An equitable pleading by which a claimant brings a claim in a court of equity. • Before the merger of law and equity, the bill in equity was analogous to a declaration in law. The nine parts of every equitable bill are (1) the address to the person holding the great seal, (2) the introduction, which identifies the parties, (3) the premises, which state the plaintiff’s case, (4) the confederating part, in which the defendants are charged with combination, (5) the charging part, in which the plaintiff may try to overcome defenses that the defendants may allege, (6) the jurisdictional clause, showing that the court has jurisdiction, (7) the interrogating part, inserted to try to compel a full and complete answer, (8) the prayer for relief, and (9) the prayer for process to compel the defendants to appear and answer.

— Also termed bill in equity. See DECLARATION(7).

— Also termed bill in chancery; bill of chancery; bill of equity; bill for foreclosure. [Cases: Equity 128–153.]

“The statement of the plaintiff’s cause of action in equity is called the bill. To this bill the defendant (unless he could protect himself by a demurrer or a plea) was obliged to put in an answer under oath.” George Tucker Bispham, The Principles of Equity: A Treatise on the System of Justice Administered in Courts of Chancery § 9, at 12 (11th ed. 1931).

bill for a new trial. A bill in equity to enjoin a judgment and to obtain a new trial because of some fact that would render enforcement of the judgment inequitable. • The fact must have been either unavailable or unknown to the party at trial through fraud or accident. Cf. MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL. [Cases: Fraudulent Conveyances 258; New Trial 124(1). C.J.S. New Trial §§ 147, 170, 174–175, 177, 185–186.]

bill for redemption. See bill of redemption.

bill in aid of execution. A bill filed by a judgment creditor to set aside a fraudulent encumbrance or conveyance. [Cases: Fraudulent Conveyances 258.]

bill in perpetuam rei memoriam. See bill to perpetuate testimony.

bill in the nature of a bill of review. A postjudgment bill of review filed by someone who was neither a party to the original suit nor bound by the decree sought to be reversed.

— Also termed supplemental bill in the nature of a bill of review. [Cases: Equity 442.]

bill in the nature of a bill of revivor. A bill filed when a litigant dies or becomes incapacitated before the litigant’s interest in property could be determined. • The purpose of the bill is to resolve who holds the right to revive the original litigation in the deceased’s stead. [Cases: Equity 116.]

bill in the nature of a supplemental bill. A bill bringing to court new parties and interests arising from events that occur after the suit is filed. • A supplemental bill, in contrast, involves parties or interests already before the court. [Cases: Equity 294.]

bill in the nature of interpleader. A bill of interpleader filed by a person claiming an interest in interpleaded property. [Cases: Interpleader 23. C.J.S. Interpleader §§ 33–34.]

bill of certiorari. A bill in equity seeking removal of an action to a higher court. See CERTIORARI. [Cases: Certiorari 42(.5).]

bill of complaint. An original bill that begins an action in a court of equity. See COMPLAINT(1). [Cases: Equity 128–153.]

“A suit in equity, under the procedure of the English Court of Chancery, which was generally adopted in the American States prior to the code, is instituted by the plaintiff filing a bill of complaint. The plaintiff is usually called the complainant, in the Federal courts the complainant or plaintiff indifferently. The bill is in substance a petition to the chancellor, or judge of the court of equity, setting forth at large the grounds of the suit, and praying the process of the court, its subpoena, to bring the defendant into court and compel him to answer the plaintiff’s bill, and, also, for such relief by decree or interlocutory remedy, by way of injunction, etc., as the plaintiff supposes himself entitled to.” Edwin E. Bryant, The Law of Pleading Under the Codes of Civil Procedure 55 (2d ed. 1899).

bill of conformity. A bill filed by an executor or administrator who seeks the court’s guidance in administering an estate. • The bill is usu. filed to adjust creditors’ claims.

bill of costs. A certified, itemized statement of the amount of costs owed by one litigant to another, prepared so that the prevailing party may recover the costs from the losing party.

— Also termed cost bill. [Cases: Costs 202. C.J.S. Costs § 148.]

bill of discovery. A bill in equity seeking disclosure of facts within the opposing party’s knowledge. See DISCOVERY. [Cases: Equity 129.]

bill of evidence. A transcript of testimony heard at trial.

bill of exceptions.

1. A formal written statement — signed by the trial judge and presented to the appellate court — of a party’s objections or exceptions taken during trial and the grounds on which they are founded. • These bills have largely been replaced by straight appeals under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See EXCEPTION(1). [Cases: Exceptions, Bill of

1. C.J.S. Appeal and Error §§ 461–463.]

2. In some jurisdictions, a record made to preserve error after the judge has excluded evidence.

bill of foreclosure. A bill in equity filed by a lender to have mortgaged property sold to satisfy all or part of the secured, unpaid debt. [Cases: Mortgages 444. C.J.S. Mortgages § 739.]

bill of interpleader. An original bill filed by a party against two or more persons who claim from that party the same debt or duty. • The requesting party asks the court to compel the contenders to litigate and establish their rights to the debt or the duty. See INTERPLEADER. [Cases: Interpleader 23. C.J.S. Interpleader §§ 33–34.]

“The common law offered the stakeholder no relief, in that if he paid in good faith to one claimant, he might nevertheless be sued by and required to pay another claimant. And a judgment at law in favor of one claimant against the stakeholder was no defense to an action against the stakeholder by another claimant. However, in equity the bill or suit of interpleader offers him a remedy in that he may interplead (bring) into one action all of the claimants, turn the money or property over to the court, be himself dismissed from the proceeding, and have the court decide which of the claimants is entitled to the fund or property ….” William Q. de Funiak, Handbook of Modern Equity § 108, at 241–42 (2d ed. 1956).

bill of peace. An equitable bill filed by one who is threatened with multiple suits involving the same right, or with recurrent suits on the same right, asking the court to determine the question once and for all, and to enjoin the plaintiffs from proceeding with the threatened litigation. • One situation involves many persons having a common claim but threatening to bring separate suits; another involves one person bringing a second action on the same claim. [Cases: Equity 51(1). C.J.S. Equity §§ 38–41.]

“By a bill of peace we are to understand a bill brought by a person to establish and perpetuate a right which he claims, and which, from its nature, may be controverted by different persons, at different times, and by different actions; or, where separate attempts have already been unsuccessfully made to overthrow the same right, and justice requires that the party should be quieted in the right, if it is already sufficiently established; or if it should be sufficiently established under the direction of the court. The obvious design of such a bill is to procure repose from perpetual litigation, and therefore, it is justly called a bill of peace.” Joseph Story, Commentaries on Equity Jurisprudence § 853, at 567 (W.E. Grigsby ed., 1st English ed. 1884).

“If there was a dispute as to some right involving a multiplicity of persons (e.g., as to a man’s right to take tolls, or to a right of way traversing many estates), a bill of peace could be brought in equity to establish the right and so secure repose from the prospect of incessant or multifarious litigation. Bills of peace have now in practice been superseded by modern procedural provisions for the joinder of parties and for representative actions.” Robert E. Megarry & P.V. Baker, Snell’s Principles of Equity 570 (27th ed. 1973).

bill of privilege. Hist. The formal process for suing an attorney or officer of the court.

“Attorneys and all other persons attending the courts of justice (for attorneys, being officers of the court, are always supposed to be there attending) are not liable to be arrested by the ordinary processes of the court, but must be sued by a bill, called usually a bill of privilege, as being personally present in court.” William Blackstone, 3 Commentaries on the Laws of England 289 (1768).

bill of redemption. A bill in equity filed to enforce a right to redeem real property, usu. following a mortgage foreclosure or a delinquent-tax sale.

— Also termed bill for redemption.

bill of review. A bill in equity requesting that a court reverse or revise a prior decree. [Cases: Equity 442.]

bill of revivor. A bill filed for the purpose of reviving and continuing a suit in equity when the suit has been abated before final consummation. • The most common cause of such an abatement is the death of either the plaintiff or the defendant. [Cases: Equity 303.]

bill of revivor and supplement. A compound of a supplemental bill and a bill of revivor, joined for convenience. • Its distinct parts must be framed and proceeded on separately. [Cases: Equity 294–309.]

bill quia timet. An equitable bill used to guard against possible or prospective injuries and to preserve the means by which existing rights are protected from future or contingent violations. • It differs from an injunction, which corrects past and present — or imminent and certain — injuries. One example is a bill to perpetuate testimony. See QUIA TIMET. [Cases: Equity 17. C.J.S. Equity § 55.]

bill to carry a decree into execution. A bill brought when a decree could not be enforced without further court order because of the parties’ neglect or for some other reason.

— Also termed bill to enforce a decree. [Cases: Equity 438.]

bill to perpetuate testimony. An original bill to preserve the testimony of a material witness who may die or leave the jurisdiction before a suit is commenced, or to prevent or avoid future litigation.

— Also termed bill in perpetuam rei memoriam. [Cases: Federal Civil Procedure 1293; Pretrial Procedure 64. C.J.S. Pretrial Procedure §§ 13–17, 34.]

bill to suspend a decree. A bill brought to set aside a decree. [Cases: Equity 430.]

bill to take testimony de bene esse (dee or d[schwa] bee-nee es-ee also day ben-ay es-ay). A bill brought to take testimony pertinent to pending litigation from a witness who may be unavailable at the time of trial. [Cases: Federal Civil Procedure 1293; Pretrial Procedure 64. C.J.S. Pretrial Procedure §§ 13–17, 34.]

cost bill. See bill of costs.

cross-bill. A bill brought by the defendant against the plaintiff in the same suit, or against other defendants in the same suit, relating to the matters alleged in the original bill. [Cases: Equity 195–206.]

nonoriginal bill. A bill relating to some matter already litigated by the same parties. • It is an addition to or a continuation of an original bill.

original bill. A bill relating to some matter that has never before been litigated by the same parties with the same interests. [Cases: Equity 128–153.]

skeleton bill of exceptions. A bill of exceptions that, in addition to the formal parts, contains only the court’s directions to the clerk to copy or insert necessary documents into the record for appellate review, but does not contain the actual evidence or trial-court rulings. • For example, the statement “the clerk will insert the official transcript here” is typically a skeleton bill. [Cases: Exceptions, Bill of 23. C.J.S. Appeal and Error § 468.]

supplemental bill. A bill filed for the purpose of adding something to an original bill. • This addition usu. results from the discovery of new facts or from a new understanding of facts after the defendant has put on a defense. [Cases: Equity 294–301.]

supplemental bill in the nature of a bill of review. See bill in the nature of a bill of review.

3. A legislative proposal offered for debate before its enactment. [Cases: Statutes 1–23. C.J.S. Statutes §§ 2–6, 9–18, 21–42.]

administration bill. A bill drafted and submitted by the executive branch.

appropriations bill. A bill that authorizes governmental expenditures. • The federal government cannot spend money unless Congress has appropriated the funds. U.S. Const. art. I, § 9, cl.


— Also termed spending bill. See APPROPRIATION(2), (3). [Cases: United States 85. C.J.S. United States §§ 156–158.]

budget bill. A bill designating how money will be allocated for the following fiscal year.

clean bill. A bill that has been changed so much by a legislative committee that it is better to introduce a new bill (a “clean” one) than to explain the changes made.

— Also termed committee substitute.

companion bill. A bill introduced in the other house of a bicameral legislature in a substantially identical form.

deficiency bill. An appropriation bill covering expenses omitted from the general appropriation bills, or for which insufficient appropriations were made. • An urgent deficiency bill covers immediate expenses usu. for one item, and a general deficiency bill covers a variety of items.

engrossed bill.

1. A bill in a form ready for final passage by a legislative chamber.

2. A bill in the form passed by one house of the legislature. See ENGROSS(3); ENGROSSMENT(2).

“An engrossment is a proofreading and verification in order to be certain that the bill before the house is identical with the original bill as introduced with all amendments that have been adopted correctly inserted.” National Conference of State Legislatures, Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure § 735-2, at 525 (2000).

enrolled bill. A bill passed by both houses of the legislature and signed by their presiding officers. See ENROLL(2); ENROLLED-BILL RULE. [Cases: Statutes 37. C.J.S. Statutes §§ 56–58.]

house bill. (often cap.) A legislative bill being considered by a house of representatives. — Abbr. H.; H.B.

money bill. See revenue bill.

must-pass bill. Legislation of vital importance, such as an appropriation without which the government will shut down. • A must-pass bill will often attract unrelated riders. See RIDER.

omnibus bill.

1. A single bill containing various distinct matters, usu. drafted in this way to force the executive either to accept all the unrelated minor provisions or to veto the major provision.

2. A bill that deals with all proposals relating to a particular subject, such as an “omnibus judgeship bill” covering all proposals for new judgeships or an “omnibus crime bill” dealing with different subjects such as new crimes and grants to states for crime control.

prefiled bill. A bill that has been drafted and submitted before a legislative session begins.

private bill. A bill relating to a matter of personal or local interest only. Cf. special law under LAW.

“A private Bill is a measure for the interest of some person or class of persons, whether an individual, a corporation, or the inhabitants of a county, town, parish, or other locality, and originates on the motion of some member of the [legislature] in which the Bill is introduced.” Courtenay P. Ilbert, Legislative Methods and Forms 28 (1901).

public bill. A bill relating to public policy in the whole community.

revenue bill. A bill that levies or raises taxes. • Federal revenue bills must originate in the House of Representatives. U.S. Const. art. I, § 7, cl.


— Also termed money bill.

senate bill. (often cap.) A legislative bill being considered by a senate. — Abbr. S.; S.B.

spending bill. See appropriations bill.

4. An enacted statute (the GI Bill).

5. An itemized list of charges; an invoice (hospital bill). See FEE STATEMENT.

bill of parcels.

1. A seller’s itemized list of goods and prices, intended to assist a buyer in detecting any mistakes or omissions in a shipment of goods.


bill payable. See account payable under ACCOUNT.

bill receivable. See account receivable under ACCOUNT.

bill rendered. See account rendered under ACCOUNT.

6. A bill of exchange; a draft (the bank would not honor the unsigned bill). See DRAFT(1). [Cases: Bills and Notes

1. C.J.S. Bills and Notes; Letters of Credit §§ 2–3, 5–6, 8–9, 17–18, 22.]

advance bill. A bill of exchange drawn before the shipment of the goods.

banker’s bill. See finance bill.

blank bill. A bill with the payee’s name left blank. Cf. DRAFT(1).

domestic bill.

1. A bill of exchange that is payable in the state or country where it is drawn. [Cases: Bills and Notes 128. C.J.S. Bills and Notes; Letters of Credit§ 85.]

2. A bill on which both the drawer and drawee reside within the same state or country.

— Also termed (in sense 2) inland bill of exchange. Cf. foreign bill. [Cases: Bills and Notes 13. C.J.S. Bills and Notes; Letters of Credit § 5.]

finance bill. A bill of exchange drawn by a bank in one country on a bank in another country to raise short-term credit. • Finance bills are often issued in tight money periods, and usu. have maturity dates of more than 60 days.

— Also termed banker’s bill; working capital acceptance.

foreign bill. A bill of exchange drawn in one state or country and payable in another. Cf. domestic bill. [Cases: Bills and Notes 13, 128. C.J.S. Bills and Notes; Letters of Credit §§ 5, 85.]

inland bill of exchange. See domestic bill (2).

investment bill. A bill of exchange purchased at a discount and intended to be held to maturity as an investment.

7. A formal document or note; an instrument (bill of sale).“The expression ‘bill of sale’ includes bills of sale, assignments, transfers, declarations of trust without transfer, inventories of goods with receipts thereto attached, or receipts for purchase-monies of goods, and other assurances of personal chattels, and also powers of attorney, authorities, or licences to take possession of personal chattels as security for any debt, and also any agreement, whether intended or not to be followed by the execution of any other instrument, by which a right in equity to any personal chattels, or to any charge or security thereon, shall be conferred ….” Joshua Williams, Principles of the Law of Personal Property 60 (11th ed. 1881) (tracking the definition in the [U.K.] Bills of Sale Act of 1878).

“A transfer may be either an absolute assignment by way of gift or sale, or an assignment by way of mortgage or security only; but in either case when a written document of any sort is used to effect the transfer, the document is called technically a ‘bill of sale.’ ” Arthur Weldon & H. Gibson Rivington, Gibson’s Conveyancing 302 (14th ed. 1933).

bill obligatory. A written promise to pay; a promissory note under seal.

— Also termed single bond. See NOTE(1). [Cases: Bills and Notes 41. C.J.S. Bills and Notes; Letters of Credit § 5.]

bill of debt. A debt instrument, such as a bill obligatory or promissory note. [Cases: Bills and Notes 28. C.J.S. Bills and Notes; Letters of Credit §§ 2–3, 7–9, 12, 22, 75.]

bill of lading. See BILL OF LADING.

bill penal. A written promise to pay that carries a penalty in excess of the underlying debt for failure to pay. Cf. bill single.

bill single. A written promise to pay that is not under seal and has no penalty for failure to pay.

— Also termed single bill. Cf. bill penal.

grand bill of sale.

1. Hist. An instrument used to transfer title to a ship that is at sea.

2. An instrument used to transfer title of a ship from the builder to the first purchaser.

single bill. See bill single.

skeleton bill. A bill drawn, indorsed, or accepted in blank.

8. A piece of paper money (a $10 bill).

9. A promissory note (the debtor signed a bill for $7,000). [Cases: Bills and Notes 28. C.J.S. Bills and Notes; Letters of Credit §§ 2–3, 7–9, 12, 22, 75.]