Advisory Opinion Law and Legal Definition

An advisory opinion is a non-binding opinion of a court on the interpretation or constitutionality of the law, a proposed statute, or a hypothetical legal question submitted to it by a legislative or executive body or an interested party. An advisory opinion does not resolve a dispute between parties. It is the opinion that states the legal rule on a particular matter. Advisory opinions are usually issued in the absence of a case or controversy. Sometimes advisory opinions are used as persuasive evidence in the absence of statutes and precedents.

In the U.S.,Federal courts are constitutionally prohibited from issuing advisory opinions. However, courts like International Court of Justice, render them routinely.

Advisory opinion also refers to written statement issued by an administrator of an employee benefit plan, which interprets ERISA (The Employee Retirement Income Security Act) and applies it to a specific factual situation. However this can be relied on only by the parties who are named in the request.