Legal Dictionary


Definition of declaration


    Middle English declaracion ("declaration"), from French déclaration, from Latin declarationem, corresponding to declare +‎ -ation


  • IPA: /ˌdɛklæˈreɪʃən/, SAMPA: /dEkl{"r\eIS@n/
  • (US) IPA: /dɛkləˈɹejʃn̩/
  • Rhymes: -eɪʃǝn


declaration (plural declarations)

  1. A written or oral indication of a fact, opinion, or belief.
  2. A list of items for various legal purposes, e.g. customs declaration.
  3. The act or process of declaring.
  4. (cricket) The act, by the captain of a batting side, of declaring an innings closed.
  5. (law) In common law, the formal document specifying plaintiff's cause of action, including the facts necessary to sustain a proper cause of action, and to advise the defendant of the grounds upon which he is being sued.


  • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Luke 1:1
    Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us...


  • (written or oral indication): avowal, notice, statement
  • (list of items for legal purposes): notice, statement
  • (act or process of declaring): notice

See also

Further reading

In law, a declaration ordinarily refers to a judgment of the court or an award of an arbitration tribunal is a binding adjudication of the rights or other legal relations of the parties which does not provide for or order enforcement. Where the declaration is made by a court, it is usually referred to as a declaratory judgment. Less commonly, where declaratory relief is awarded by an arbitrator, it is normally called a declaratory award.

Declaratory relief is most commonly seen in two particular circumstances:

  • applications for declarations of legitimacy, in family and probate legal proceedings; and
  • under insurance policies, for a determination of whether a peril is covered by a particular policy.

However applications for declaratory relief in other areas have become more widespread, particularly in Europe. A key feature in relation to this development have been the Brussels and Lugano Conventions on civil jurisdiction and judgments relating to members of the EEA. In certain circumstances, jurisdiction is awarded under the conventions to the courts first seised of the matter. This has led to a rise in defendants taking pre-emptive action by seeking "declarations of non-liability" in a race to the courthouse to ensure that the they choose the court first seised rather than waiting for the claimant to do so.

Other legal uses

Declaration is used (as a verb or a noun) in other ways in certain legal systems.

  • In some legal systems, a declaration is an alternative term for a sworn affidavit.
  • In relation to companies, declaration is the first step in relation to distribution and payment of dividends.
  • In trust law, a settlor who declares that he holds certain property on trust is said to make a declaration of trust.
  • Dying declarations are an exception to the rule against hearsay in many legal systems.
  • Declarations against interest are also an exception to the rule against hearsay in many legal systems.
  • A formal declaration of default is required to enforce creditors' security rights in some legal systems.


  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.


1.     lex fori
2.     landed property
3.     lex situs
4.     respondent
5.     default judgment
6.     tort law
7.     living will
8.     lex causae
9.     law
10.     salacious