Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Order and Decree

Within the context of the U.S. law, civil procedures are regulated by a set of legislation that provides ground rules for the actions and behaviors of citizens as well as the rules and proceedings to be used in a court of law. In a civil court, the judge can express his decisions and pass a judgement on the grounds of an order or a decree. While the two concepts may seem very similar, there are substantial differences: the order is a judgement, a decision taken on objective considerations, whereas a decree is the final part of the judgement that concerns the claims of one of (or both) parties of the suit.

Difference Between Order and Decree

What is a Decree?

The definition of decree can be found in section 2(2) of the 1908 Code of Civil Procedure. According to the text, a decree “the formal expression of an adjudication which, so far as regards the Court expressing it, conclusively determines the rights of the parties with regard to all or any of the matters in controversy in the suit and may be either preliminary or final.” The decree is the result (or the final part) of a judgement. A preliminary decree can be subject to further proceeding before the suit can be disposed, whereas the final decree, which is based on the preliminary one, is expressed when all the matters of the suit have been resolved.

In order for a decree to be expressed, there must be an adjudication – in other words, all or any parts of the suit must be resolved and the determination of the rights of the parties needs to be conclusive (conclusive determination). In other words, once the judge has expressed his ruling, the court cannot use any means to change the decision taken. The decree is only valid if it is formally expressed following the proceeding outlined in the legislation.


What is an Order?

An order is judgment expressed by the court (or the panel), which does not contain a decree (the final judgment). In other words, an order is a direction by the judge to one of the parties to the suit, instructing the plaintiff to take (or not take) specific actions. While the decree is concerned with substantial matters, the order focuses on procedural aspects (i.e. adjournment, amendment, etc.). Section 2(14) of the 1908 Code of Civil Procedure defines order as “the formal expression of any decision of a Civil Court which is not a decree.” An order may or may not finally determine a right, but it is always final and can never be preliminary.Difference Between Order and Decree-1

Similarities between Order and Decree

According to the 1908 Civil Procedure Code, there are various common elements between a decree and an order although they differ on key aspects. Some of the main similarities are listed below.

  1. Both decree and order are expressed by a judge – or a panel of judges – in a civil court;
  2. Both are expressed in the context of a controversy (a suit) between two (or more) opposing parties;
  3. Both are formal decisions; and
  4. Both order and decree are adjudications.

What is the Difference between Order and Decree?

Despite few commonalities, order and decree are substantially different: the first is a judgement – generally expressed on procedural matters – while the second is a final judgement that ascertains the rights of the parties involved. Some of the primary differences between the two include:

  1. The decree focuses on the legal rights of one of (or both) contesting parties whereas the order is mainly concerned with procedural matters. When a judge expresses an order, he does so in order to invite or refrain one of the parties involved from taking an action:
  2. During a suit, there can be only one decree – although it can be preliminary or final – while there can be multiple orders, which are always final;
  3. A decree is the formal proclamation of the adjudication made by the judge or the court, which ascertains the rights of the parties concerned and tend to contain conclusive determination of a right. Conversely, an order is the legal announcement of the decision (or judgment) taken by the court (or by the judge) with regard to the relationship of the parties within the context of legal proceedings; and
  4. A decree is usually appealable while there is no second appeal against orders.

Order vs Decree

Building on the differences outlined in the previous section, we can identify few other aspects that differentiate the two concepts.

Order vs Decree : Comparison Chart

  Decree Order
Definition The decree is defined in section 2(2) of the 1908 Civil Procedure Code and is the official adjudication made by the judge, which explains the rights of the parties involved within the context of the suit. The order is defined in section 2(14) of the 1908 Civil Procedure Code and is the official announcement of a decision taken by the judge with regards to the relationship between the parties involved within the context of a suit.
Formality A decree is a formal expression by the court and, therefore, has to be expressed following the appropriate procedure. An order is a formal expression of the judge or the panel of judges and, unlike the decree, can never be appealed.
Pass The decree can be passed within the context of a suit initiated with the presentation of a plaint. The order can be passed within the context of a suit initiated with the presentation of a plaint, petition or application.

Summary of Order vs. Decree

Order and decree are decisions taken by a judge in a civil court within the context of a suit between opposing parties. The decree, defined in section 2(2) of the 1908 Civil Procedure Code, is a legal and formal pronouncement of an adjudication by the court (or by the judge), that ascertains the rights of the plaintiff and defendant, about all or any matters of the suit. Conversely, an order is a formal decision by the judge that concerns procedural matters and defines the relationship among the parties involved within the context of the suit. While the decree contains conclusive determination of a right, the order may or may not finally determine a right but is, nevertheless, not appealable.

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References :

[0]Beale Jr, Joseph H. "Contempt of Court Criminal and Civil." Harv. L. Rev. 21 (1907): 161.

[1]“Code of Civil Procedure (V of 1908): Amendments Incoroparted.” Law Reforms Ordinance, XII of 1972, Federal Adaption of Laws Order, 4 of 1975. Code of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Act, XV of 1976.

[2]Mansoor Book House, 1979

[3]"Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Carl_Johan_warning_decree_17_May_1828_IMG_8038.JPG"

[4]"Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Verizon_court_order_FBI.jpg"

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