A non-suit is the termination of a civil case in situations where the plaintiff fails to present information or abandons the case. The judge can enter a ruling against the plaintiff in such cases and damages will be awarded, but the case has not been decided on its merits. Not all legal systems provide a mechanism for this type of ruling, but in those that do, it provides a method for penalizing people who bring suit and then abandon their suits or fail to present compelling evidence in front of the judge.
There are several situations where it may be appropriate for a judge to determine that a case is a non-suit. In a voluntary non-suit, plaintiffs withdraw charges, and the case is considered concluded. This may happen as the result of a settlement. In some of these instances, no ruling is made against the plaintiff, and the plaintiff does not have to pay damages.
In other types of non-suits, plaintiffs either abandon the case after filing it by not showing up in court or responding to communications from the court, or they appear in court, but do not provide appropriate evidence. If a judge reviews the evidence and determines that nothing points to the defendant, it can be determined a non-suit. The plaintiff may be ordered to pay damages to the defendant for lost time and money, in addition to the damage to the defendant's reputation. In all of these cases, because the court never hears compelling evidence and reviews it, the case has not been decided on its merits, but rather on a technicality.
In the court record, the outcome of the case will be recorded as a non-suit. It may show up in background checks and research into a person's legal history. A history of non-suits may make someone a target of suspicion, as there may be a belief that the person is bringing suits to be a nuisance or to cause problems for the targets of those suits.
Most legal systems have measures in place to limit nuisance or nonsense suits, with the goal of saving time, money, and energy for the legal system, and preventing people from using legal suits as a method for harassment. When people are preparing to file suits, they will need to file supporting paperwork and pay fees to show their commitment to seeing the case through in court. If the case turns out to be frivolous in nature, as with some non-suits, there will be legal penalties.