Doctrine of Res Judicata

The doctrine of res judicata, which means "a matter already judged" in Latin, is a legal doctrine that prevents the same matter from being litigated again between the same parties once a final judgment has been reached. Similar to the doctrine of double jeopardy, res judicata promotes the finality of judgments and aims to prevent repetitive litigation on the same issues. Here are some key aspects of the doctrine:

Finality of judgments: Res judicata promotes the principle that once a court has rendered a final judgment on a particular matter, it should be considered conclusive and binding on the parties involved. It prevents them from relitigating the same issues and obtaining a different outcome through subsequent lawsuits.

Claim preclusion: The doctrine of claim preclusion is a component of res judicata. It prevents a party from bringing a claim that has already been adjudicated in a previous lawsuit between the same parties. This applies not only to claims that were actually raised in the previous lawsuit but also to claims that could have been raised but were not. Essentially, it ensures that all relevant claims arising from the same transaction or occurrence are addressed in a single lawsuit.

Issue preclusion: The doctrine of issue preclusion, also known as collateral estoppel, is another aspect of res judicata. It bars the relitigation of specific issues or determinations that were actually litigated and decided in a prior lawsuit between the same parties. Once a court has made a final determination on an issue, it cannot be re-litigated in a subsequent lawsuit between the same parties.

Same parties or privity: Res judicata typically applies only when the parties involved in the subsequent lawsuit are the same or in privity with the parties in the previous lawsuit. Privity refers to a close relationship or legal connection between the parties, such as one party representing the interests of another.

Exceptions and limitations: While res judicata is a general principle, there are certain exceptions and limitations to its application. For example, if new evidence emerges that was not available during the previous lawsuit, it may warrant a reopening of the case. Additionally, certain types of judgments, such as consent judgments or default judgments, may have different implications for res judicata.

Res judicata serves important purposes in the legal system by promoting judicial economy, preventing inconsistent judgments, and protecting parties from harassment through repetitive litigation. Its application varies across jurisdictions, and specific requirements and exceptions can differ.
Back to blog

UOL Case Bank

Upon joining, you become a valuable UOL student and gain instant access to over 2,100 case summaries. UOL Case Bank is constantly expanding. Speed up your revision with us now.

Subscribe Now

Where are our students from?

Yale University
Council of Europe
Baker Mckenzie 
University of Chicago
Columbia University
New York University
University of Michigan 
INSEAD
University College London (UCL)
London School of Economics (LSE)
King’s College London (KCL)
University of London
University of Manchester
University of Zurich
University of York
Brandeis University
University of Exeter
University of Sheffield
Boston University
University of Washington
University of Leeds
University of Law
Royal Holloway, University of London 
Birkbeck, University of London
SOAS, University of London
University of Kent
University of Hull
Queen’s University Belfast
Toronto Metropolitan University
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
University of Buckingham

  • Criminal Practice

    Diagrams and Charts

    Our carefully designed diagrams and charts will guide you through complex legal issues.

  • Criminal Law

    Clear and Succinct Definitions

    Key concepts are concisely defined to help you understand legal topics quickly.

  • Property Law

    Statutory Provisions

    Statutory provisions are provided side by side with legal concepts to help you swiftly locate the relevant legislation.

  • Public Law

    Case Summaries

    We have summarised important cases for you so that you don't need to read long and boring cases.

  • Evidence

    Rules and Exceptions

    Rules and exceptions are clearly listed so that you know when a rule applies and when it doesn't.

  • Company Law

    Terminology

    Legal terms and key concepts are explained at the beginning of each chapter to help you learn efficiently.

  • Case Law

    Case law is provided side by side with legal concepts so that you know how legal principles and precedents were established.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Law Essay Guide

    You will learn essential law exam skills and essay writing techniques that are not taught in class.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Problem Question Guide

    We will show you how to answer problem questions step by step to achieve first-class results.

  • Conflict of Laws

    Structured Explanations

    Complex legal concepts are broken down into concise and digestible bullet point explanations.

  • Legal System and Method

    Legal Research

    You will learn legal research techniques with our study guide and become a proficient legal researcher.

  • Jurisprudence and Legal Theory

    Exam-focused

    All essential concepts, principles, and case law are included so that you can answer exam questions quickly.