Tuesday, March 24, 2009


- Latin. "the thing has been decided" The principle that a final judgement of a competent court is conclusive upon the parties in any subsequent litigation involving the same cause of action.

The general rule is that a plaintiff who has prosecuted one action against a defendant and obtained a valid final judgment is barred by res judicata from prosecuting another action against the same defendant where :

(a) the claim in the second action is one which is based on the same factual transaction that was at issue in the first;

(b) the plaintiff seeks a remedy additional or alternative to the one sought earlier; and

(c) the claim is of such a nature as could have been joined in the first action.

Underlying this standard is the need to strike a delicate balance between the interests of the defendant and of the courts in bringing litigation to a close and the interest of the plaintiff in the vindication of a just claim.

The decision of a legal or equitable issue, by a court of competent jurisdiction.

It is a general principle that such decision is binding and conclusive upon all other courts of concurrent power. This principle pervades not only our own, but all other systems of jurisprudence, and has become a rule of universal law, founded on the soundest policy.

If, therefore, Paul sue Peter to recover the amount due to him upon a bond and on the trial the plaintiff fails to prove the due execution of the bond by Peter, in consequence of which a verdict is rendered for the defendant, and judgment is entered thereupon, this judgment, till reversed on error, is conclusive upon the parties, and Paul cannot recover in a subsequent suit, although he may then be able to prove the due execution of the bond by Peter, and that the money is due to him.

But in order to make a matter res judicata there must be a concurrence of the four conditions following, namely:

1. Identity in the thing sued for.

2. Identity of the cause of action; if, for example, I have claimed a right of way over Blackacre, and a final judgment has been rendered against me, and afterwards I purchase Blackacre, this first decision shall not be a bar to my recovery, when I sue as owner of the land, and not for an easement over it, which I claimed as a right appurtenant to My land Whiteacre.

3. Identity of persons and of parties to the action; this rule is a necessary consequence of the rule of natural justice: ne inauditus condemnetur.

4. Identity of the quality in the persons for or against whom the claim is made; for example, an action by Peter to recover a horse, and a final judgment against him, is no bar to an action by Peter, administrator of Paul, to recover the same horse.

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