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actual controversy

n. a true legal dispute which leads to a genuine lawsuit rather than merely a "cooked up" legal action filed to get a court to give the equivalent of an advisory opinion. Federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, will only consider an "actual controversy", on appeal, since they will not give advisory (informal) opinions or make judgments on "friendly suits" filed to test the potential outcome.

See also: friendly suit 

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The People's Law Dictionary by Gerald and Kathleen Hill Publisher Fine Communications