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An element is an essential requirement to make a claim or defense in court, as in elements of a civil action or a criminal action. 

  • For example, one element of negligence is the existence of a legal duty that the defendant owed to the plaintiff. If there is no evidence that a legal duty was owed by the defendant to the plaintiff, then there is no negligence. 

An element is also used to refer to an essential requirement of a General Plan (a plan of a city, county or area which establishes zones for different types of development, uses, traffic patterns, and future development).

See also: Elements (of a case) ; Elements (of a crime)

[Last updated in July of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team