Res Judicata by Yaminee Verma @LEXCLIQ

Res Judicata is a phrase or Latin maxim that literally means that once a matter has been adjudicated, it will not be readjudicated. In simple words, if a court has given a decision in one matter, then the same matter cannot be presented in another court.  In Res Judicata the word Res stands for ‘subject matter’ and judicata stands for ‘adjudged’ and together Res Judicata means subject matter that has been adjudged. This principle applies to both civil matters and criminal matters.

Illustration-

There are two individuals A and B. The get into a contract for sale of goods. A thinks that B has fraudulently taken A’s consent and sues him in the court of law. The court finds that B is innocent and gives order in favour of B. Now A cannot take the same matter to another court against B.

Elements of Res Judicata-

  1. Relitigation of same matter- It applies only to those matters in which final decision has been given by the court but after final decision the same matter has been presented in another court for relitigation.
  2. Cause of action is same- A party cannot bring in a suit for same cause of action under this principle.
  3. Parties are same- This principle bars a person to bring in a suit that has the same party in the same matter that has been decided earlier by other court.
  4. The other court is competent- The court in which the previously litigated suit has been brought is competent enough to grant relief.

Purpose of the principle of Res Judicata-

  1. Protects a person from multiplicity of proceedings
  2. Avoids conflicts in the decisions of two different courts
  3. Avoid wasting of time and court resources

Exceptions to Res Judicata-

There are a few cases in which the principle of res Judicata may not apply i.e., a new lawsuit in the same case can be filed in a different court. They include the following:

  1. Dismissal of a claim for lack of jurisdiction or improper venue;
  2. Voluntary dismissal of a claim by a plaintiff;
  3. Dismissal for want of prosecution;
  4. Dismissal without prejudice, which often expressly states that a plaintiff may refile if they correct certain defects or errors in their pleadings; and
  5. Failure to join a party under a mandatory joinder rule.

Res judicata as a concept under administrative law-

Administrative law is the law that deals with the structure, functions, and powers of the organs of administration. The law derives its power to enforce regulation from the government and enacted legislations. This applies to all public officials and agencies. When a matter is decided by an administrative authority, the decision id binding on both the parties. In case either of the party wants to take the same matter in other court who is competent enough to grant relief to the party, they cannot do so as the principle of Res Judicata will apply in such a case.

Conclusion-

The principle of Res Judicata can be understood as something which restricts either party to move to a different competent court with the same matter during the pendency of the proceedings. This principle has a very wide scope and can even include matters of public interest litigation. It applies to both civil and criminal matters and helps to protect a party from readjudication in the same matter.

Written by Yaminee Verma @LEXCLIQ

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