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res judicata Latin phrase


the legal principle that once a matter is decided by a court, it is finally decided and cannot be tried again, unless on appeal
The defendant initially responded with a motion to dismiss on the grounds of res judicata.

Hello, I'm Robin and welcome to TransLegal's lesson of the week.

We are going to talk about res judicata today. Now res judicata describes an important legal doctrine. It generally means that once a matter is judicially decided it is finally decided. This doctrine bars re-litigation of matters between the same parties that have already been judged on the merits or the substance of the case.

Now this doctrine of res judicata is very ancient and it is based on three Roman law maxims which I will tell you translated into English. The first is that no person should be vexed or annoyed twice for the same cause. The second is that it is in the interest of the state that there should be an end to litigation and the third is that a judicial decision must be accepted as correct, in other words, it is in everybody's interests, the parties and the general public, to prevent or preclude losing parties from bringing the same case against the same adversary over and over in an attempt to win.
For example, in a paternity suit if a court rules that Barney is the father of Wilma's child, Barney cannot raise that issue again in another court. He could appeal the court's ruling to an appellate court but he could not raise the paternity issue again in another law suit.

Now we use the phrase in the following context rather commonly, for instance, "the defendant responded with a motion to dismiss on res judicata grounds" or "the principle of res judicata applies in this case" or "the decision constituted res judicata as between the parties" or "the court held that res judicata barred an environmental group's suit".

As we have discussed, it is always good to know when to close a case. It is similarly also good to know when to close a lesson of the week and that time is now. So thanks for listening.

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