The declaratory judgment is distinguished from another important non-monetary remedy, the injunction, in two main ways. First, the injunction has, and the declaratory judgment lacks, a number of devices for managing the parties. Second, the declaratory judgment is sometimes available at an earlier point in a dispute, because it is not subject to the equitable ripeness requirement.
A declaratory judgment is generally distinguished from an advisory opinion because the latter does not resolve an actual case or controversy. Declaratory judgments can provide legal certainty to each party in a matter when this could resolve or assist in a disagreement. Often an early resolution of legal rights will resolve some or all of the other issues in a matter.
A declaratory judgment is typically requested when a party is threatened with a lawsuit but the lawsuit has not yet been filed; or when a party or parties believe that their rights under law and/or contract might conflict; or as part of a counterclaim to prevent further lawsuits from the same plaintiff (for example, when only a contract claim is filed, but a copyright claim might also be applicable). In some instances, a declaratory judgment is filed because the statute of limitations against a potential defendant may pass before the plaintiff incurs damage (for example, a malpractice statute applicable to a certified public accountant may be shorter than the time period the IRS has to assess a taxpayer for additional tax due to bad advice given by the C.P.A.).
Declaratory judgments are authorized by statute in most common-law jurisdictions. In the