Definition of Form

A model or skeleton of an instrument to be used in a judicial proceeding or legal transaction, containing the principal necessary matters, the proper technical terms or phrases and whatever else is necessary to make it formally correct, arranged in proper and methodical order, and capable of being adapted to the circumstances of the specific case or transaction.

In contradistinction to "substance,” "form” means the legal or technical manner or order to be observed in legal instruments or juridical proceedings, or in the construction of legal documents or processes. Antithesis of "substance.”

Common form, solemn form. See Probate.

Form of the statute. This expression means the words, language, or frame of a statute, and hence the inhibition or command which it may contain; used in the phrase (in criminal pleading) "against the form of the statute in that case made and provided.”

Forms of action. This term is the general designation of the various species or kinds of personal actions known to the common law, such as trover, trespass, debt, assumpsit, etc., and also to the general classification of actions as those in "equity” or "law”. These differ in their pleadings and evidence, as well as in the circumstances to which they are respectively applicable. Under Rules of Civil Procedure (applicable in federal and most state courts) there is now only one form of action known as a "civil action,” Fed.R.Civ.Proc., Rule 2. See also Forms of action.

Matter of form. In pleadings, indictments, affidavits, conveyances, etc., matter of form (as distinguished from matter of substance) is all that relates to the mode, form, or style of expressing the facts involved, the choice or arrangement of words, and other such particulars, without affecting the substantial validity or sufficiency of the instrument, or without going to the merits.

That's the definition of Form in Black's Law Dictionary 6th Edition. Courtesy of

Official tim editorial.