Judgment (law)

Judgment (law)
Civil procedure in the United States
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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 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.

In some legal systems (particularly civil law jurisdictions), a judgment is not considered final until after appeals have been exhausted or waived.



  • Consent decree, a final, binding judgment in a case in which both parties agree, by agreement, 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

Reserved judgment

A judge will sometimes, having heard both sides of the argument, refrain from making an immediate decision and retire to consider the case further. The judge will announce that they are to 'reserve' their judgment until a later time. This is sometimes annotated in law reports by the Latin phrase "Cur. adv. vult." or "c.a.v." (Curia advisari vult).[1]

Release of judgment

In some jurisdictions, full payment of a monetary judgment entitles the judgment debtor to receive from the judgment creditor, upon request, a document called a "satisfaction and release of judgment",[2] whereby the judgment debtor may have the original judgment vacated, the action dismissed, any lien removed, and the damaging record expunged from the judgment debtor's public records and credit history.[3] An example of this is in Illinois state law, cf. 735 ILCS 5/12-183.[4]


In a non-legal context, spelling differs between countries. The spelling judgement (with e added) is common in the United Kingdom in a non-legal context. The spelling judgment without the e is however often listed first and in any case without comment or regional restriction in major UK dictionaries.[5][6][7] In British English, the spelling judgment is correct when referring to a court's or judge's formal ruling, whereas the spelling judgement is used for other meanings.[8] In American English, judgment prevails in all contexts.[9] 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.[10] 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. Usage in South Africa is similar to that in Australia. The spelling judgment is also found in the Authorized King James Version of the Bible.


  1. ^ "A Guide to Legal Information" (pdf). Aberystwyth University. http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/media/guide_law_en.pdf. Retrieved 2011-06-03. 
  2. ^ Satisfaction; Release of Judgment — Illinois docstoc.com
  3. ^ What Is a Release and Satisfaction? Illinois Legal Aid
  4. ^ (735 ILCS 5/) Code of Civil Procedure Illinois General Assembly
  5. ^ Definition of to judge Cambridge dictionary
  6. ^ Definition of judgement Oxford dictionary
  7. ^ Definition of judgment Longman dictionary
  8. ^ Ritter, R. M. (2002). The Oxford Guide to Style. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-869175-0. 
  9. ^ Burchfield, Robert William (1996). The New Fowler's Modern English Usage (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-869126-2. OCLC 36063311. 
    Garner, Brian A. (2003). Garner's Modern American Usage. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-516191-2. 
  10. ^ Pam Peters, The Cambridge Guide to English Usage, p. 303.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • judgment by default — see judgment 1a Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996. judgment by default …   Law dictionary

  • judgment — judg·ment also judge·ment / jəj mənt/ n 1 a: a formal decision or determination on a matter or case by a court; esp: final judgment in this entry compare dictum, disposition …   Law dictionary

  • judgment notwithstanding the verdict — see judgment 1a Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996. judgment notwithstanding the verdict …   Law dictionary

  • judgment creditor — see creditor Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996. judgment creditor …   Law dictionary

  • judgment debtor — n: one who is obligated to pay a debt or damages in accordance with a judgment entered by a court Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996. judgment debtor …   Law dictionary

  • judgment proof — adj. Describes a person not worth suing for monetary damages because he or she is insolvent, has no property within a jurisdiction, or is otherwise protected from a judgment for money recoveries. The Essential Law Dictionary. Sphinx Publishing,… …   Law dictionary

  • judgment debt — see debt Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996. judgment debt …   Law dictionary

  • law — / lȯ/ n [Old English lagu, of Scandinavian origin] 1: a rule of conduct or action prescribed or formally recognized as binding or enforced by a controlling authority: as a: a command or provision enacted by a legislature see also statute 1 b:… …   Law dictionary

  • judgment lien — see lien Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996. judgment lien …   Law dictionary

  • judgment on the merits — see judgment 1a Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996. judgment on the merits …   Law dictionary

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