Opinion Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Opinion, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Opinion?

It is the written explanation prepared by the judge who has made a decision to the court case. In this statement he/she explains the facts and the laws on the basis of which the decision was made. It gives the reasoning which has lead to such decisions on the basis of legal rules and the evidences provided.

History and Meaning of Opinion

In the legal context, an "opinion" refers to a written explanation provided by a judge or court, outlining the reasoning and basis for a decision made in a case. These opinions are typically published and become part of the legal record. The goal of an opinion is to provide transparency and clarity regarding the court's decision-making process, and to help guide future legal proceedings by establishing precedent.

The practice of providing written opinions dates back centuries, with some of the earliest examples coming from the English legal system. Today, opinions are a standard part of the court process in many countries and legal systems.

Examples of Opinion

  1. A judge might issue an opinion explaining the rationale behind a decision to grant or deny a motion in a case.
  2. A higher court might issue an opinion overturning a ruling by a lower court, and explaining the legal basis for doing so.
  3. The Supreme Court might issue an opinion establishing a new precedent or interpreting a previous precedent in a new way.

Legal Terms Similar to Opinion

  • Judgment: Similar to an opinion, a judgment is a decision made by a court in a case. However, a judgment typically refers specifically to the final decision in a case, whereas an opinion can refer to any of the written explanations issued by the judge(s) throughout the case.
  • Precedent: A court opinion that establishes a rule or principle that is binding on future cases with similar facts or legal issues.
  • Dissenting Opinion: An opinion issued by a judge or justice who disagrees with the majority opinion in a case.
  • Concurring Opinion: An opinion issued by a judge or justice who agrees with the majority opinion, but for different reasons.