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Code of Canon Law
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CHAPTER II. Singular Decrees and Precepts
Can.48 A singular decree is an administrative act issued by a competent executive authority in
which a decision is given or a provision is made for a particular case according to the norms of
law. Of their nature, these decisions or provisions do not presuppose a petition made by someone.
Can.49 A singular precept is a decree which directly and legitimately enjoins a specific person
or persons to do or omit something, especially in order to urge the observance of law.
Can.50 Before issuing a singular decree, an authority is to seek out the necessary information and
proofs and, insofar as possible, to hear those whose rights can be injured.
Can.51 A decree is to be issued in writing, with the reasons at least summarily expressed if it is
Can.52 A singular decree has force only in respect to the matters which it decides and for the
persons for whom it was given. It obliges these persons everywhere, however, unless it is otherwise
Can.53 If decrees are contrary to one another, a particular decree prevails over a general in those
matters which are specifically expressed. If they are equally particular or equally general, the
decree later in time modifies the earlier to the extent that the later one is contrary to it.
Can.54 §1. A singular decree whose application is entrusted to an executor takes effect from the
moment of execution; otherwise, from the moment it is made known to the person by the
authority of the one who issued it.
§2. To be enforced, a singular decree must be made known by a legitimate document
according to the norm of law.
Can.55 Without prejudice to the prescripts of cann. 37 and 51, when a very grave reason prevents
the handing over of the written text of a decree, the decree is considered to have been made
known if it is read to the person to whom it is destined in the presence of a notary or two
witnesses. After a written record of what has occurred has been prepared, all those present must
Can.56 A decree is considered to have been made known if the one for whom it is destined has
been properly summoned to receive or hear the decree but, without a just cause, did not appear
or refused to sign.
Can.57 §1. Whenever the law orders a decree to be issued or an interested party legitimately
proposes a petition or recourse to obtain a decree, the competent authority is to provide for the
matter within three months from the receipt of the petition or recourse unless the law prescribes
some other time period.
§2. When this time period has passed, if the decree has not yet been given, the response is
presumed to be negative with respect to the presentation of further recourse.
§3. A presumed negative response does not exempt the competent authority from the
obligation of issuing the decree and even of repairing the damage possibly incurred, according to
the norm of can. 128.
Can.58 §1. A singular decree ceases to have force through legitimate revocation by competent
authority as well as through cessation of the law for whose execution it was given.
§2. A singular precept not imposed by a legitimate document ceases when the authority of
the one who issued it expires.