These seem to be ways of bringing actions to a court. How do they differ and compare?

  • 1
    I don't understand the close vote or the downvote. This question is pretty straightforward.
    – bdb484
    Feb 25 at 3:28

1 Answer 1


These are different terms for initiating documents. What one court or jurisdiction calls a petition, another might call an application. "Complaint" may not have a technical meaning in some contexts or jurisdictions, but often it is used to refer to the initiating document at a specialist tribunal. There are other names for initiating documents: notice of civil claim, notice of action, etc.

There is no way to know which terms have a technical meaning and what those meanings are without looking to the rules and practice in a particular jurisdiction.

"Indictment" is an initiating document in a criminal prosecution. But there are also "informations" (generally implying lesser charges).

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