What's the difference between "abuse of process" and "malicious prosecution"

A cause of action for abuse of process is similar to the action for malicious prosecution in that both actions are based on and involve the improper use of the courts and legal systems. The primary difference between the two legal actions is that malicious prosecution concerns the malicious or wrongful commencement of an action, while, on the other hand, abuse of process concerns the improper use of the legal process after process has already been issued and a suit has commenced. In abuse of process, the legal process is misused for some purpose which is considered improper under the law. Thus technically, the service of process itself—in the form of a summons—could be considered abuse of process under the right circumstances, e.g. fraudulent or malicious manipulation of the process itself, but in malicious prosecution, the wrongful act is the actual filing of the suit itself for improper and malicious reasons. The three requirements of malice, lack of probable cause in the issuance of the process, and a termination of the prior proceeding favorable to the plaintiff, are essential elements for malicious prosecution. Most jurisdictions do not require any of these three elements in order to make out a prima facie case for abuse of process.

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