Bill IX Equity, the statement of the plaintiff's case in an equity suit. In English law it is addressed to the lord chancellor, and, commencing with the names of the plaintiffs, proceeds to state the circumstances of their case and the grievance to be redressed, setting out or making reference to all documentary evidence relied on. From the statement it proceeds to charge against the defendants, collectively or individually, the various facts which either specifically or by induction constitute the gravamen of the case. It concludes with the prayer for relief, and with interrogatories, both general and specific, to which the plaintiffs require an answer. The bill may not join distinct subjects of complaint; if it does, it is objectionable for multifariousness. It must contain no irrelevant matter, otherwise it may be excepted to for impertinence; nor scandalous matter, that is, the narrative of mere hearsay report, or personally offensive expressions, which may be expunged. The introductory or narrative part must support the charging part; the charges must cover all the case intended to be made against the defendants, and the interrogatories must demand specific information, either affirmation, denial, or explanation, upon all those points which are important to the establishment of the plaintiffs' case.
As new facts come to the plaintiffs' knowledge, either from the defendants' admissions or from other sources, the bill may be amended, and new interrogatories added; while bills of revivor and supplement are filed to bring the representatives of deceased parties, assignees of parties, or newly born children before the court. The bill is met on the part of the defendants either by demurrer, which admits the facts alleged, but denies that they make out a cause of equitable jurisdiction; or by plea, which presents some single ground of defence supposed to constitute a bar; or by answer, which is a specific reply to the various allegations of the bill. A demurrer or plea will present an issue of law for argument; but if the plaintiff wishes to dispute the facts set up in the plea or answer, he will do so by replication, whereby an issue will be made upon which proofs can be taken. The plaintiff in equity is called complainant, and in addressing the court in his bill he will style himself "your orator." - By codes in New York and many other American states the old forms of equity pleading are abolished, and a simple complaint reciting the facts constituting the supposed cause of action is substituted for the bill.