A consent judgment is a decision reached by a court upon the agreement of all parties involved in a suit. In civil suits, the parties can work out an agreement and have it finalized with this judgment to end litigation. The court's decision is final and puts the issue to rest, ensuring that it cannot be contested or relitigated in the future.
Consent judgments are binding on the parties involved in the agreement. The nature of the judgment can vary, depending on the type of litigation involved. It may require one party to pay damages to the other, for example, or indicate that a party involved in the suit must stop or start a particular activity. The judgment is enforceable, and if one party fails to abide by the terms, the other party can take legal action to compel that person to comply.
Litigation can be a costly endeavor for all parties involved, so they may attempt to reach a settlement before they go to court. For the judge to issue a consent judgment, all parties must indicate that the agreement has been mutually agreed on and that they find it acceptable. If a party does not agree, the litigation must proceed in court, as entering a judgment against that person's wishes would result in a deprivation of legal rights.
Judges can issue a judgment in the form of a consent decree, a document that spells out the terms of the agreement reached by the parties involved. The only circumstances in which such judgments can be appealed are those in which one side can prove that the agreement was reached fraudulently. If one party was misled into an agreement, it can argue that the litigation should be reopened to give that party a fair chance in court.
The outcome of a consent judgment is a matter of public record because it takes place in a court of law. People who are curious about the outcome of a settlement may look it up to get more information. Sometimes, however, the terms include confidentiality clauses that obscure individuals' identities or the amount of damages. This is done for privacy reasons and by request from the person paying damages so that members of the public are not alerted to the possibility of potential payouts in similar cases.