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A mandate is an official order

In appellate cases, a mandate is the document by which the appellate court formally notifies the lower court of its decision and by which jurisdiction for any necessary additional proceedings is conferred upon the lower court. If the appellate court remands the case, the lower court must execute the mandate’s directions. A mandate also finalizes an appellate court’s decision. Until then, the lower court’s original decision continues in effect and the appellate court retains control over the appeal. 

According to the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure R.41, “Unless the court directs that a formal mandate issue, the mandate consists of a certified copy of the judgment, a copy of the court's opinion, if any, and any direction about costs.”

[Last updated in July of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]