Concept of Legal Sanction

Concept of Legal Sanction

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A legal sanction is a broad term that can have different meanings in different contexts. Sanction can be used to describe tacit or explicit approval. Used in this sense, the term usually is used in assigning liability to a party who was not actively involved in wrongdoing but who did nothing to prevent it.

What is a legal Sanction?

Sanctions are referred to as the penalties or other means of enforcement used to provide incentives for obedience with the law, or with rules and regulations. Sanctions are financial or other penalties imposed by a judge on a party or attorney for violation of a court rule, for receiving a special waiver of a rule, or as a fine for contempt of court. The sanction may be paid to the court or to the opposing party to compensate the other side for inconvenience or extra-legal work required to respond to the sanctioned conduct. In one noted case, an attorney was sanctioned for filing a frivolous case by being ordered to go back to school.

The term sanction also can describe disagreement and condemnation.

Legal Sanction – As per Criminal Law

A sanction is a punishment for a criminal offence. The criminal sanction for a criminal defendant varies according to the crime and includes such measures as death, incarceration, probation, community service, and monetary fines.

Legal Sanction – As per Civil Law

A sanction is that part of a law that assigns a penalty for violation of the law’s provisions. The most common civil sanction is a monetary fine, but other types of sanctions exist. Depending on the case, a sanction may be the suspension or revocation of a business, professional, or hobby license, or a court order commanding a person to do or refrain from doing something. A sanction may even be tailored to the case at hand. For instance, under rule 37 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure1, if a party refuses to obey a discovery order, or an order to relinquish requested evidence, the court may order that the evidence sought to be automatically construed in favor of the requesting party, refuse to allow the disobedient party to make claims or defenses related to the evidence, stay or postpone the case until the discovery order is obeyed, dismiss the action or render judgment for the requesting party, declare the disobedient party in contempt of court, or make any other order that is just under the circumstances.

Imposition of Sanctions

Sanctions may also be imposed by a state bar association upon a finding or acknowledgement that the lawyer has engaged in any professional misconduct. Such sanctions may include a reprimand, admonishment, suspension, probation, or temporary or permanent disbarment.

Other sanctions and remedies which may be imposed include:

  1. restitution;
  2. assessment of costs
  3. limitation upon practice
  4. appointment of a receiver
  5. requirement that the lawyer take the bar examination or professional responsibility  examination
  6. requirement that the lawyer attend continuing education courses
  7. other requirements that the state’s highest court or disciplinary board deems consistent with the purposes of lawyer sanctions

The following is the federal procedural rule dealing with frivolous or baseless filings by parties or attorneys:

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure

(a) Signature

Every pleading, written motion, and other paper shall be signed by at least one attorney of record in the attorney’s individual name, or, if the party is not represented by an attorney, shall be signed by the party. Each paper shall state the signer’s address and telephone number if any. An unsigned paper shall be stricken unless the omission of the signature is corrected promptly after being called to the attention of the attorney or party.

(b)Representations to the Court

By presenting to the court (whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later advocating) a pleading, written motion, or other paper, an attorney or unrepresented party is certifying that to the best of the person’s knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances.

  1. It is not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay or needless increase in the cost of litigation. The claims, defenses, and other legal contentions therein are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law or the establishment of the new law;
  2. The allegations and other factual contentions have evidentiary support or, if specifically so identified, are likely to have evidentiary support after a reasonable opportunity for further investigation or discovery; and
  3. The denials of factual contentions are warranted on the evidence or, if specifically so identified, are reasonably based on a lack of information or belief.

 (c) Sanctions

If, after notice and a reasonable opportunity to respond, the court determines that any subdivision has been violated, the court may, subject to the conditions stated below, impose an appropriate sanction upon the attorneys, law firms, or parties that have violated a specific subdivision or are responsible for the violation.

How Legal Sanction is it initiated?

1.   By Motion.

A motion for sanctions under this rule shall be made separately from other motions or requests and shall describe the specific conduct alleged to violate subdivision. It shall be served as provided in Rule 52, but shall not be filed with or presented to the court unless, within 21 days after service of the motion (or such other period as the court may prescribe), the challenged paper, claim, defense, contention, allegation, or denial is not withdrawn or appropriately corrected. If warranted, the court may award to the party prevailing on the motion the reasonable expenses and attorney’s fees incurred in presenting or opposing the motion. Absent exceptional circumstances, a law firm shall be held jointly responsible for violations committed by its partners, associates, and employees.

2.   On Court’s Initiative.

 On its own initiative, the court may enter an order describing the specific conduct that appears to violate subdivision and directing an attorney, law firm, or party to show cause why it has not violated subdivision with respect thereto.

Types of Legal Sanctions

Criminal sanctions

This type of criminal functioning includes charges or Julies punishing an individual for committing a crime or an offense. Common criminal sanctions include imprisonment, probation, fines, and community service. Judges are bound to follow strict sentencing guidelines to call when sentencing those convicted of a crime. The probation period may range from months to years. Fines are imposed on people convicted of crimes that can range from the re-institution of a victim to thousands of dollars in fees from tickets. Community services are may be assigned depending on the crime committed, and the jury may also impose where and when a person performs her community service and for how long.

Civil sanctions

Suspension or revocation of business, professional or hobby license or types of civil sanctions. They are a part of the institution and monetary damages. In case of a civil section, money is awarded to another party, such as someone the sanctioned person has hurt, damages, or wronged goods. Some cases may involve both civil and criminal sanctions. If a doctor knowingly mysteries a patient, he may be indicted on criminal charges and maybe shoot for monetary damages as well.

Contempt of Court sanctions

This type of sanction may be either a criminal or civil and the court may order a fine to be paid on the queues that may be placed in jail. Contempt of court can result from a witness, plaintive, or defendant distracting the court, perjuring them in court, or any such behavior the judge believes to be disrespectful to the court. The individual may not be welcome to enter the court again and maybe send directly to the jail or receive a ticket.

Administrative Agency Sanction

This type of sanction is against a corporation and in walls and agencies not abiding by any federal, state, or any local law. Environmental laws may sanction agencies due to not following any kind of environmental laws and regulations. Business is maybe find a large amount of money and maybe order to stop conducting their businesses if the behaviour of the businesses is causing any dangerous harm to the environment and to the society

International Sanction

One country may sanction another country if the sanctioning country feels as if another country is being non-compliant with rules of conduct. This sanction may be forceful or non-forceful, with diplomatic efforts, such as serving relations, filing protests with the United Nations, cutting off financial ties, or creating trade embargoes.


Sanctions are officially imposed punishments aimed at enforcement of legal obligations. They are said to constitute the core, if not the defining characteristic, of the legal order. Inadequate sanctions are blamed for the failures of legal control in such divergent areas as international law, domestic crime, and civil rights. Despite the presumed importance of sanctions in the legal process, however, serious attention has rarely been paid to the topic.





Vani Parashar

Student, Amity University NOIDA

Vani Parashar is a 3rd-year law student at Amity University, Noida. As a law student, She has taken part in different fields like youth parliaments, debates, MUNs and event organisation. She is a well-rounded individual who lives with passion, dedication and grace and this is what sets her apart from anybody else.

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