I have found the definitions below from Merriam-Webster (my bold) and, aside from the fact that judicial has a wider use (and definition) than juridical (most of which I cut from this excerpt). When using each word as per my highlighted definition, is there a technical difference in what is being referred to or are they synonyms?

ju·rid·i·cal adj \ju̇-ˈri-di-kəl\

Definition of JURIDICAL

1: of or relating to the administration of justice or the office of a judge

2: of or relating to law or jurisprudence : legal

ju·di·cial adj \jü-ˈdi-shəl\

Definition of JUDICIAL

1a : of or relating to a judgment, the function of judging, the administration of justice, or the judiciary (judicial processes)

  • Thanks for the acceptance, but in future you might consider leaving questions open for a day or two, in case somebody offers a better answer. Dec 15, 2011 at 12:51
  • @Tim - very magnanimous of you. I've removed the tick for the time being. The specific text I had referred to Russia rather than Britain but I thought that your answer was very clearly explained
    – Matt
    Dec 15, 2011 at 14:04

3 Answers 3


Historically there was no difference, and I suspect that is still so in some parts of the world. But in the British legal system at least there is a valuable difference, namely that juridical relates to the system of justice generally whereas judicial refers specifically to the acts of a judge. So if a judge says "You will go to jail for contempt" that is a judicial order; but there is a considerable amount of juridical paperwork to be completed.

You can, for example, buy books of precedents, and if they refer to court papers they are sometimes called juridical styles. But if a judge thinks the form is a bad one, there may be a footnote saying Judicially disapproved.

  • Historically there is a difference, one is based on juridicus which in latin is everything related to the law and rights, the other is based on judicarius/judicium which is the judgment itself. But everything else in this answer is spot on. Jul 2, 2012 at 14:44
  • @ColinHebert: there is a difference between historically and etymologically. You are largely right about the derivations (though both come ultimately from judex); but several 18th-century books use the two words interchangeably. I suspect this is because of the tendency, before the rule of law was formalized, to think that the law was what the king's judge said it was; "It has no kind of fault or flaw/ And I, my lords, embody the law". Jul 2, 2012 at 15:10


The adjective juridical means “relating to the administration of the law.”

The adjective judicial means “relating to courts of law or judges.”

We can talk about the judicial system (the organization of courts and judges) or a judicial decision (one made by a judge).

We can talk about a juridical interpretation of an action (strictly according to the law) or a juridical system (a body of laws by which a state or organization is governed).

That may outline the essential difference, for now.


In the US, I would say that "judicial" relates to the courts of law or to the legal system. And "juridical" I would not use myself.

  • Agreed - I'm sure "juridical" has some use in law circles, but in everyday parlance you'd get strange looks using it.
    – Lynn
    Jul 2, 2012 at 14:40

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