declaratory judgment

declaratory judgment

In law, a judgment merely declaring a right or establishing the legal status or interpretation of a law or instrument. It is binding but is distinguished from other judgments or court opinions in that it includes no executive element (an order that something be done); instead it simply declares or defines rights to be observed or wrongs to be eschewed by litigants, or expresses the court's view on a contested question of law.

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A judgment (see spelling note below), in a legal context, is synonymous with the formal decision made by a court following a lawsuit. At the same time the court may also make a range of court orders, such as imposing a sentence upon a guilty defendant in a criminal matter, or providing a remedy for the plaintiff in a civil law matter.

In the United States, under the rules of civil procedure governing practice in federal courts and most state courts, the entry of judgment is the final order entered by the court in the case, leaving no further action to be taken by the court with respect to the issues contested by the parties to the lawsuit. With certain exceptions, only a final judgment is subject to appeal.

Types of judgment in law

  • Consent judgment, a final, binding judgment in a case in which both parties agree, by stipulation, to a particular outcome
  • Declaratory judgment, a judgment of a court in a civil case which declares the rights, duties, or obligations of each party in a dispute
  • Default judgment, a binding judgment in favor of the plaintiff when the defendant has not responded to a summons
  • Summary judgment, a legal term which means that a court has made a determination without a full trial
  • Vacated judgment, the result of the judgment of an appellate court which overturns, reverses, or sets aside the judgment of a lower court

Spelling

The spelling judgment is found in the Authorized Version of the Bible. As a result, it is the preferred spelling in a legal context throughout the common law world.

In a non-legal context, however, the situation differs between countries. The spelling judgement (with e added) largely replaced judgment in the United Kingdom in a non-legal context, possibly because writing dg without a following e for the /dʒ/ was seen as an incorrect spelling. In the context of the law and theology, however, judgment is preferred. In the U.S. judgment strongly prevails. In Canada and Australia, in a non-legal context both forms are equally acceptable, although judgment is more common in Canada and judgement in Australia. However, in a legal and theological context, judgment is the only correct form. In New Zealand the form judgment is the preferred spelling in dictionaries, newspapers and legislation, although the variant judgement can also be found in all three categories. In South Africa, judgement is the more common form. See further at American and British English spelling differences.

Notes

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