Cease and desist

Cease and desist

A cease and desist is an order or request to halt an activity (cease) and not to take it up again later (desist) or else face legal action. The recipient of the cease-and-desist may be an individual or an organization.

In the U.S. the term is used in two different contexts. A cease-and-desist order can be issued by a judge or government authority, and has a well-defined legal meaning. In contrast, a cease-and-desist letter can be sent by anyone, although typically they are drafted by a lawyer.


Court order

A judge may issue a cease-and-desist order with the intent to halt an illegal activity. This prohibition is sometimes used as the outcome of a trial, in which case it is a permanent injunction against the activity. It can also be used as an emergency measure to prevent possibly irreparable harm, in which case it takes the form of a temporary injunction. An injunction against speech issued before it occurs (e.g. preventing a pending publication) is called prior restraint.

Use by administrative agencies

Many government administrative agencies also have the ability to issue cease-and-desist orders and frequently use them to halt the sale of unregistered or fraudulent securities, to halt banking practices that would possibly be dangerous to institutions and to enforce licensing statutes. These orders usually specify a period of time for the recipient of the order to request a hearing. If a hearing is not requested by the recipient in the given time, the cease-and-desist order becomes final and the agency has the ability to enforce its order in a court of law.

Cease-and-desist letters

A cease-and-desist letter is a letter demanding that the recipient refrain from a certain behavior or face legal action. Some types of behaviors that may prompt such letters include:[citation needed]

In the case of stalking and harassment, the letter usually demands that the recipient cease the threatening behavior or face criminal charges.

In the case of property and boundary disputes, the letter demands that the recipient cease activity that negatively impacts their neighbors. Some examples include holding loud parties late at night, leaving a dog outside to bark all day, cutting down trees that stand on public or jointly owned land, or building a fence that infringes on someone else's property.

In the case of copyright or trademark infringement, libel, and slander, the letter typically threatens a civil lawsuit if the recipient continues the undesired activity. It is similar in form, although not in function, to a demand letter, which alerts the recipient to a pending claim for money damages, usually as a result of a tort or a breach of contract.

In the US, a recipient of a cease-and-desist letter who is placed in a "reasonable apprehension" of litigation may respond through a request for declaratory judgment proceeding in his own jurisdiction.


Civil liberties and free speech groups such as the ACLU have criticized cease-and-desist letters, pointing out that the letters may be used by wealthy individuals and organizations to silence opponents who are unable or unwilling to engage in an expensive lawsuit, and thus may feel compelled to comply with a cease-and-desist letter even if it is unjustified.

See also

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cease And Desist — « Cease and desist » (cesser et renoncer) est un terme juridique anglo saxon signifiant essentiellement stop. Il est employé pour demander à une personne ou une organisation de cesser de manière permanente de faire quelque chose (cesser …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Cease and desist — « Cease and desist » (cesser et renoncer) est un terme juridique anglo saxon signifiant essentiellement stop. Il est employé pour demander à une personne ou une organisation de cesser de manière permanente de faire quelque chose (cesser …   Wikipédia en Français

  • cease and desist — 1. verb To stop and to not resume an action. 2. noun A demanding that one cease and desist from continuing certain behavior, such as copyright infringement, trademark infringement, slander, or libel. a cease and desist letter; a cease and desist… …   Wiktionary

  • Cease And Desist — An order given by a government administrative agency or the courts to stop any suspicious or illegal activities. Falling under the Financial Institutions Regulator Act of 1978, a cease and desist order places an injunction on a company or person …   Investment dictionary

  • cease and desist order — n. An order by a court, agency, or judicial body telling someone to stop doing a particular activity, usually because the activity in question is illegal. The Essential Law Dictionary. Sphinx Publishing, An imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. Amy… …   Law dictionary

  • cease–and–desist order — see order 3b Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996 …   Law dictionary

  • cease and desist letter — A letter from an intellectual property owner that requests that alleged illegal activity, such as copyright infringement, be stopped immediately. Category: Patent, Copyright & Trademark → Copyright Law Nolo’s Plain English Law Dictionary. Gerald… …   Law dictionary

  • cease and desist order — noun (law) a judicial remedy issued in order to prohibit a party from doing or continuing to do a certain activity injunction were formerly obtained by writ but now by a judicial order • Syn: ↑injunction, ↑enjoining, ↑enjoinment • Derivationally… …   Useful english dictionary

  • cease-and-desist order — An order issued after notice and opportunity for hearing, requiring a depository institution, a holding company or a depository institution official to terminate unlawful, unsafe or unsound banking practices. Cease and desist orders are issued by …   Financial and business terms

  • cease and desist order — An order of an administrative agency or court prohibiting a person or business firm from continuing a particular course of conduct, e.g. Fed. Trade Commission may order a business to cease and desist from misbranding or misadvertising its… …   Black's law dictionary

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