Define: So Ordered

So Ordered
So Ordered
Quick Summary of So Ordered

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Full Definition Of So Ordered

The phrase “So Ordered” is a significant term within the legal lexicon, particularly in common law jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom and the United States. It is a succinct judicial command signifying the formal approval and enforceability of a court’s decision. This legal overview aims to elucidate the meaning, application, and implications of “So Ordered” within the British legal system, exploring its use in various contexts including court orders, judgments, and procedural rulings.

Historical Context and Etymology

The term “So Ordered” has its roots in the formal and procedural language of the judiciary. Historically, court orders and judgments have been couched in authoritative language to reflect the gravity and binding nature of judicial decisions. The phrase itself is a truncated form of a longer declaration, typically “It is so ordered,” which unequivocally signifies that the court’s directive is final and must be adhered to.

Meaning and Significance

“So Ordered” is employed by judges and magistrates at the conclusion of a court ruling or judgment to indicate that the decision rendered is to be executed as decreed. It is the judicial equivalent of a command, mandating compliance by the parties involved. This phrase is not merely ceremonial; it carries significant legal weight, as it transforms the judge’s decision from a verbal or written pronouncement into a binding and enforceable order.

Application in Different Types of Court Orders

  1. Interim Orders:
    • Interim orders are temporary orders issued by a court pending the final determination of a case. When a judge uses the phrase “So Ordered” in the context of an interim order, it indicates that the interim relief granted, such as a temporary injunction or custody arrangement, must be complied with immediately and remains in effect until further court directive.
  2. Final Judgments:
    • In the context of final judgments, “So Ordered” is used to formalise the conclusion of a legal dispute. The judge’s final decision on the merits of the case, whether it involves monetary damages, specific performance, or another form of relief, is made enforceable through this directive.
  3. Consent Orders:
    • Consent orders are agreements between parties that are submitted to the court for approval. Once the judge reviews and finds the terms acceptable, they will use “So Ordered” to ratify the agreement, making it a binding court order.
  4. Procedural Orders:
    • Procedural orders relate to the administration and management of a case, including scheduling and discovery matters. The use of “So Ordered” in this context ensures that the procedural directives issued by the court are followed to facilitate the orderly progression of the case.

Enforceability and Compliance

The enforceability of an order marked “So Ordered” is grounded in the authority of the judiciary. Non-compliance with such orders can result in legal consequences, including contempt of court, fines, or imprisonment. The phrase acts as a seal of legitimacy and authority, underscoring the imperative nature of the court’s directive.

Variations and Related Phrases

While “So Ordered” is a common term, variations exist depending on the jurisdiction and the specific context. Phrases such as “It is hereby ordered,” “Ordered and adjudged,” or simply “Ordered” may be used interchangeably to convey the same legal finality and enforceability.

Procedural Context and Documentation

In British courts, the documentation accompanying a court’s decision, such as the order or judgment, will typically conclude with “So Ordered.” This notation serves as a critical procedural marker, ensuring that the decision is recognised as formal and binding. The inclusion of this phrase in legal documents affirms the court’s intention to enforce the order and provides clarity to the parties involved.

Judicial Discretion and “So Ordered”

The use of “So Ordered” reflects the exercise of judicial discretion. Judges have the authority to issue orders and make decisions that are fair, just, and in accordance with the law. The phrase encapsulates the judge’s considered judgment and the expectation that the order will be followed without delay or deviation.

Appeals and Modifications

While “So Ordered” signifies finality, it does not preclude the possibility of appeals or modifications. Parties may seek to challenge the order through appellate courts, which have the authority to review and potentially alter or overturn the decision. Additionally, if circumstances change, parties can petition the court to modify the order. However, until such changes are made, the original order remains in full force and effect.

Comparative Analysis: British and American Usage

In comparing the British and American legal systems, the use of “So Ordered” is fundamentally similar, with both jurisdictions employing the phrase to signify the binding nature of a court’s directive. However, differences in legal procedure and court hierarchy may influence the specific application and frequency of the term. In the United States, for instance, the phrase is often seen in federal and state court rulings, whereas in the UK, it may be more prevalent in specific types of civil and family law cases.

Practical Implications for Legal Practitioners

For legal practitioners, understanding the implications of “So Ordered” is essential. It signifies that the court’s directive is not merely advisory but carries the full weight of judicial authority. Practitioners must ensure that their clients comprehend the seriousness of compliance and the potential consequences of non-adherence.


The phrase “So Ordered” is a powerful judicial tool that signifies the enforceability of a court’s decision. Its usage encapsulates the authority of the judiciary and the binding nature of court orders. In the British legal system, as in other common law jurisdictions, “So Ordered” is a critical component of legal proceedings, ensuring that judicial decisions are respected and adhered to. Understanding its meaning and implications is vital for legal practitioners, litigants, and all parties involved in the legal process.

By tracing its historical roots, exploring its application in various contexts, and examining its enforceability, this overview provides a comprehensive understanding of “So Ordered” within the British legal framework. As a succinct yet powerful judicial command, it underscores the importance of adherence to court orders and the authority of the judicial system in upholding the rule of law.

So Ordered FAQ'S

“So Ordered” is a phrase commonly used by judges to indicate their approval or agreement with a particular decision or order. It signifies that the judge has reviewed the matter and has given their official authorization.

No, “So Ordered” is typically used exclusively by judges to indicate their approval or agreement with a decision. Other individuals involved in the legal process, such as attorneys or court clerks, do not have the authority to use this phrase.

Yes, “So Ordered” carries legal significance as it confirms that a judge has officially approved or agreed to a particular decision or order. It serves as a formal endorsement by the judge and indicates that the decision is legally binding.

No, “So Ordered” is not the same as a court order. While it signifies the judge’s approval or agreement with a decision, a court order is a separate document that outlines specific instructions or directives to be followed by the parties involved in a legal case.

In general, “So Ordered” cannot be directly appealed or challenged. However, the underlying decision or order that the phrase refers to can be subject to appeal or challenge through the appropriate legal channels.

No, “So Ordered” is not used in every legal proceeding. It is typically employed in written orders or decisions issued by judges to indicate their approval or agreement. In oral proceedings, judges may use alternative phrases or simply state their approval without using this specific term.

While “So Ordered” is primarily used in legal contexts, it can occasionally be used in non-legal settings to convey a similar meaning of official approval or agreement. However, its usage outside the legal field is relatively rare.

If a judge forgets to include the phrase “So Ordered” in a decision, it does not invalidate the decision itself. The absence of this phrase does not affect the legal validity or enforceability of the decision, as long as it is clear that the judge has approved or agreed to the decision in some other manner.

Yes, “So Ordered” can be used in international legal proceedings, particularly in jurisdictions that follow common law traditions. However, its usage may vary depending on the specific rules and practices of each jurisdiction.

No, “So Ordered” is not the only way for a judge to indicate their approval. Judges have discretion in choosing how they express their agreement or approval with a decision or order. They may use alternative phrases or simply state their approval explicitly without using any specific term.

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This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 7th June 2024.

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