What Is an Adjudication?

An adjudication is a legal ruling or judgment, usually final, but can also refer to the process of settling a legal case or claim through the court or justice system, such as a decree in the bankruptcy process between the defendant and the creditors.

Normally, an adjudication represents the final judgment or pronouncement in a case that will determine the course of action taken regarding the issue presented. Outside of a legal process, adjudication can also more generally refer to other formal processes of judgment or ruling that render a final decision, such as the process of validating an insurance claim.

Key Takeaways

  • Adjudication is the process by which a court judge resolves issues between two parties.
  • Adjudication hearings are similar to the arbitration hearing process.
  • Generally, adjudication hearings involve money or nonviolent infractions that result in a distribution of rights and obligations for all parties involved.

Understanding Adjudication

Adjudication describes the legal process that helps expedite and deliver a court's resolution regarding an issue between two parties. The result of the process is a judgment and court opinion that is legally binding. Most adjudication hearings center on disputes that involve money or nonviolent infractions and result in the distribution of rights and obligations for all parties involved.

Adjudication specifically refers to the process and decision issued by a government-appointed (or elected) judge, as opposed to a decision issued by an arbitrator in a private proceeding or arbitration. While both judges and arbitrators are expected and required to follow the law, judges' adjudications also must take into account the interests of the government and general public interest. Arbitration, meanwhile, only needs to consider the interests of the parties involved.

This legal process differs from other justice-seeking or evidence-based court cases. It is instead used to settle disputes between private parties, political officials and a private party, and public bodies and public officials. In the healthcare industry, for example, adjudication can determine a carrier's liability for monetary claims submitted by an insured person.

Adjudication Process Disputes

The types of disputes handled or resolved through adjudication include the following:

  • Disagreements between private parties, such as single-persons, individual entities, or corporations
  • Disagreements between private parties and public officials
  • Disagreements between public officials and/or public bodies

Requirements for full adjudication include requisite notice to all interested parties (all legally-interested parties or those with a legal right affected by the disagreements) and an opportunity for all parties to have their evidence and arguments heard.

The Adjudication Process

Formal rules of evidence and procedure govern the process where the initiating party, or trier, gives a notice establishing the facts in controversy and defines any applicable laws. The notice also sometimes outlines the nature of the dispute between the parties and recounts where and when the dispute occurred, and the desired result based on law. However, there are no specific requirements regarding the notice of adjudication.

An adjudicator is then appointed and a notice is sent to the defending party, who responds by submitting a defense to the claim of adjudication by the plaintiff. The adjudicator gives the plaintiff and defendant a chance to present their arguments at a hearing and makes a final ruling. This is not too dissimilar from an arbitrator in an arbitration hearing settling a business dispute.