final judgment

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Final judgment is the last decision from a court that resolves all issues in dispute and settles the parties' rights with respect to those issues. A final judgment leaves nothing to be decided except decisions on how to enforce the judgment, whether to award costs, and whether to file an appeal. Only once a final judgment has been made can a party typically file an appeal. A final judgment can exist even if there is an outstanding motion for a new trial. It can sometimes be difficult to determine when a final judgment has been made, and some exceptions may allow an appeal before every part of a claim has been settled, such as in the case of injunction

Another important aspect of final judgments is once a case reaches this point, claim preclusion (res judicata) will apply. This means that a claim cannot be re-litigated once a final judgment has been made. Similarly, final judgment can refer to a final decision made on the merits for a specific issue, in which case issue preclusion would apply. 

[Last updated in December of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]