Headnote Law and Legal Definition

In law reports, a headnote is an abstract of a case that shows the principles involved and the opinion of the court. The reporters of the decisions usually provide the headnotes on the same day that the cases are released to the public with the aim of increasing the accuracy by which such cases are interpreted and reported. However, headnotes have no independent legal force or standing. Headnotes are the work of a reporter prepared for the convenience of the profession in the examination of the records.

Usually, each jurisdiction determines whether headnotes are part of the law or only an editorial device to facilitate research. However, the headnotes to the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), adopted in whole or in part by every state, were written as part of the law. In states that treat headnotes as merely an editorial device, the UCC headnotes are considered as part of the law.