DECREE (from the past participle, decretus, of Lat. decernere), in earlier form Decreet, an authoritative decision having the force of law; the judgment of a court of justice. In Roman law, a decree (decretum) was the decision of the emperor, as the supreme judicial officer, settling a case which had been referred to him. In ecclesiastical law the term was given to a decision of an ecclesiastical council settling a doubtful point of doctrine or discipline (cf, also DECRETALS). In English law decree was more particularly the judgment of a court of equity, but since the Judicature Acts the expression " judgment " (q.v.) is employed in reference to the decisions of all the divisions of the supreme court. A " decree nisi " is the conditional order for a dissolution of marriage made by the divorce court, and it is made " absolute " after six months (which period may, however, be shortened) in the absence of sufficient cause shown to the contrary. (See DIVORCE.) Decreet arbitral is a Scottish phrase for the award of an arbitrator.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)