Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Final Order Definition:

An order or judgment of the Court that finally disposes of the rights of the parties.

Related Terms: Interlocutory, Interim Order, Appeal

Also known as a final award or a final judgment.

Distinguished from an interim order or an interlocutory order.

A final order usually, but not always, is one which ends litigation.

Typically, judicial review or an appeal is only permissible as against a final order. This was the issue when the words final order came before the Ontario Court of Appeal in Sherchanski v Lewis. Justice Arnup's words:

"It is well-established law that on an application made in an action, the order made may be intercutory if a certain result is reached but may be final if a different result is reached. Thus an order dismissing an action because the statement of claim discloses no cause of action known to law is a final order, whereas an order dismissing an application nrought for that purpose is interlocutory. Similarly, an order setting aside a default judgment, with or without terms, is interlocutory, whereas an order dismissing an application to set aside a default judgment is final."

Consider these words in the 1946 decision of the United States Court of Appeals in Cammack v. Howard, where the appeal statute required that the decision being appealed be a final order:

"An order is not appealable under this section unless it amounts to a final disposal of the case on its merits so that the court has nothing to do but execute the judgment."

This is consistent with the 1903 judgment of Justice Alverstone in Bozson v Altrincham Urban Council:

"It seems to me that the real test for determining this question ought to be this: does the judgment or order, as made, finally dispose of the rights of the parties? If it does, then I think it ought to be treated as a final order; but if it does not, it is then, in my opinion, an interlocutory order."

Evidently, the Courts have struggled with the definition of a final order, one Canadian judge (Justice Donald of the Court of Appeal of British Columbia in Forest Glen Wood Products) remarking:

"(N)o single formula can eliminate all controversies over what is a final order."

Generally, the contemporary definition of a final order is one that imposes an obligation, denies a right or creates a legal relationship.

In the 1978 decision of Honiker v US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the per curiam opinion of the United States Court of Appeals deferred to these very words in writing:

"The pertinent judicial review statutes provide for judicial review of final orders of the Atomic Energy Commission relating to activities of licensees. A final order is one that imposes an obligation, denies a right, or fixes some legal relationship, usually at the consummation of an administrative process."

But then, in 2002, these words of Justice Archer of the same Court in United Pacific Insurance Company v. Roche:

"A final order is generally one that ends the litigation on the merits and leaves nothing for the court to do but execute judgment."


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