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Stay is an action taken by a court to stop a legal proceeding or the actions of a party. A stay most commonly is issued by a court as a stay of proceedings in order to stop litigation from continuing, and they normally are only temporary. A court will do this for many reasons such as if there is another proceeding occurring that will affect the present one or if a party must do something before the proceeding can continue. 

Another form of stay is a stay of execution which halts the enforcement of a judgement or sentence against someone. One more well-known example of a stay of execution is a pardon which governors and the president can make when they believe a person should be excused. 

A stay may also refer to an automatic stay which is a statutory requirement that a party not pursue some right. Automatic stays are most popular for bankruptcy where creditors are “stayed” from pursuing payments from the debtor until the bankruptcy proceedings have ended. 

Compare with injunction

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