This term is frequently used in courts of equity and by writers on equity jurisprudence. It signifies the act by which a party who is entering into a contract is taken unawares, by which sudden confusion or perplexity is created, which renders it proper that a court of equity should relieve the party so surprised. It is sometimes, used in this sense when it is deemed presumptive of, or approaching to fraud. 2. In practice, by surprise is understood that situation in which a party is placed, without any default of his own, which will be, injurious to his interest. 8 N. AS. 407. The courts always do everything in their power to relieve a party from the effects of a surprise, when he has been diligent in endeavoring to avoid it.
Law Dictionary – Alternative Legal Definition
In equity practice. The contract is taken unawares, by which sudden confusion or perplexity is created, which renders it proper that a court of equity should relieve the party so surprised. 2 Brown, Ch. 150. Anything which happens without the agency or fault of the party affected by it, tending to disturb and confuse the judgment, or to mislead him, and of which the opposite party takes an undue advantage, is in equity a surprise, and one species of fraud for which relief is granted. There does not seem anything technical or peculiar in the word “surprise,” as used in courts of equity. Where a court of equity relieves on the ground of surprise, it does so upon the ground that the party has been taken unawares, and that he has acted without due deliberation, and under confused and sudden impressions. 1 Story, Eq. Jur.