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In legal contexts, the term “self-help” refers to a form of redress outside the regular legal process, under which one takes matters into one’s own hands and uses lawful means in an attempt to protect or restore a legal right; attempting to protect one’s interests without a court order, and of one’s own initiative by doing what one may legally do to protect those interests. An example of self-help is repossession. As long as it does not involve unlawful actions or a breach of the peace, self-help is legal. 

Self-help is not the same as self-defense and may not be exercised in circumstances that might reasonably be expected to lead to violence or a breach of the peace.

[Last updated in August of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]