Per Curiam Definition

Learn about the definition of per curiam, its characteristics, examples, and benefits. Discover how per curiam decisions are used in the legal system.

What is Per Curiam?

Per curiam is a Latin term that translates to ‘by the court’ in English. It is used to denote a decision issued by a court as a whole, rather than by an individual judge. Per curiam opinions are typically brief and do not include the name of the authoring judge.

Characteristics of Per Curiam Decisions

  • Anonymous authorship
  • Short and concise
  • Often used for routine matters or unanimous decisions

Examples of Per Curiam Opinions

One famous example of a per curiam decision is ‘Roe v. Wade.’ In this landmark case, the Supreme Court issued a per curiam opinion that legalized abortion in the United States.

Benefits of Per Curiam Opinions

  • Efficiency in decision-making
  • Clarity in expressing the court’s position
  • Consistency in legal precedents

Per Curiam in Practice

In practice, per curiam opinions are often used in lower courts for routine matters or cases where the outcome is clear. They allow courts to issue decisions quickly without the need for lengthy written opinions.


Per curiam decisions play a vital role in the legal system by providing efficient and clear rulings on cases. While they may lack the individuality of opinions authored by specific judges, per curiam decisions serve an important function in ensuring justice is served.

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