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Judgement vs. Decree: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on November 23, 2023
A judgment is a court's final decision on the matters before it, while a decree is an official order enforcing that judgment.

Key Differences

A judgment is the final part of a court case, where the judge decides the outcome based on the facts and law. A decree, on the other hand, is the formal expression of the judgment, often dictating the terms of enforcement.
Judgments are more about the court's findings and conclusions in a legal dispute. Decrees are specific orders that follow these findings, detailing what actions must be taken.
In a judgment, the court articulates its decision on the legal issues presented. A decree, however, translates this decision into a binding order, which may include actions like payment of damages or transfer of property.
While a judgment is the reasoning and ruling of a case, a decree is the mechanism through which this ruling is made effective and actionable.
Judgments often include explanations and legal reasoning, providing the basis for the court's decision. Decrees are more about the practical execution, lacking the detailed explanations present in judgments.

Comparison Chart


Court's final decision on a case
Official order enforcing the judgment


Legal reasoning and conclusions
Execution and enforcement of the judgment


Includes facts, issues, and legal principles
Specifies the actions to be taken

Role in Legal Process

Ends the judicial consideration of a case
Implements the judgment in practical terms


More theoretical and conceptual
Practical and actionable

Judgement and Decree Definitions


It represents the conclusion of a legal dispute.
After years of litigation, the judgment was finally passed.


It is a specific command following a judgment.
The decree required the defendant to pay damages.


It includes the reasoning behind the court's decision.
The detailed judgment provided insights into the court's thinking.


It is the practical execution of a court's judgment.
The implementation of the decree began immediately.


A judgment is based on the interpretation of law.
The judgment clarified the legal position on the matter.


A decree is an official order by a court enforcing its judgment.
The court issued a decree for the property to be transferred.


A judgment is a court's final decision in a case.
The judgment in the lawsuit favored the plaintiff.


A decree can be final or interim in nature.
The interim decree was a temporary order pending final judgment.


A judgment can be appealed in a higher court.
They decided to appeal the judgment in the appellate court.


A decree often involves actions like payment or transfer.
The divorce decree outlined the terms of alimony.


Variant of judgment.


An authoritative order having the force of law.


Alternative spelling of judgment.


The judgment of a court of equity.


The legal document stating the reasons for a judicial decision;
Opinions are usually written by a single judge


The judgment of a court.


An opinion formed by judging something;
He was reluctant to make his judgment known
She changed her mind


The cognitive process of reaching a decision or drawing conclusions


Ability to make good judgments


The capacity to assess situations or circumstances shrewdly and to draw sound conclusions


(law) the determination by a court of competent jurisdiction on matters submitted to it


The act of judging or assessing a person or situation or event;
They criticized my judgment of the contestants


What is a judgment?

A court's final decision in a legal case.

What is a decree?

An official order enforcing a court's judgment.

Can a judgment exist without a decree?

No, a decree is necessary to enforce a judgment.

Are judgments based on legal principles?

Yes, they are based on the interpretation of law and facts.

Can judgments be appealed?

Yes, they can be challenged in a higher court.

What types of cases involve decrees?

Typically civil cases, like property disputes or divorces.

How detailed is a judgment?

It often contains detailed legal reasoning and findings.

Is a decree always final?

No, there can be interim decrees before a final decree.

Do decrees require compliance?

Yes, parties must comply with the terms of a decree.

Who issues a decree?

A decree is issued by the court that gave the judgment.

Are judgments public record?

Typically, yes, judgments are part of the public record.

Is the content of a decree complex?

Decrees are more straightforward, focusing on enforcement.

What happens if a decree is not followed?

It can lead to legal consequences, like contempt of court.

Can both judgments and decrees be subject to interpretation?

Judgments more so, as they contain legal reasoning.

Do decrees affect legal rights?

Yes, they directly impact the rights and duties of parties.

Are judgments and decrees applicable in criminal cases?

Judgments are, but decrees are typically in civil cases.

How does one obtain a copy of a judgment or decree?

Through court records or legal counsel.

Can a decree be modified?

Yes, under certain circumstances, a decree can be modified.

What is the difference in enforcement between the two?

Judgments are declarative; decrees are enforceable orders.

Can non-parties be affected by a decree?

Generally, decrees bind only the parties involved in the case.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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