What is Res Judicata and Double Jeopardy

What is Res Judicata and Double Jeopardy:

Res Judicata

It is expected that there should be an end to every litigation and that parties should have end to their process of suing or challenging the decisions of the court. In a hierarchy of arrangement, the trial court is usually the court of first instance while the supreme court is always the final court. If a matter is decided and you are aggrieved by the decision of the court, the law permits that you can appeal against such decision except if that’s the apex court.

The principle of Res Judicata provides that when a matter has been decided based on the merit, that the parties should not reinstitute such matter before the same court or even court of coordinate jurisdiction.

Res Judicata is a principle of law that is available in civil matter where parties plead that the matter has been decided before the same court and that further entertaining the matter by the court will amount to abuse of court process and labouring in futility.

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The courts are usually at their tip-toes to shun people from clogging the dockets of the court with matters with the same subject matter and parties as the one decided already. The only option to be explored by a person disheartened by the decision of the lower court is to appeal against the judgment.

The appeal may be whole or partly. While if it is before the apex court, the aggrieved party can also file for review of the judgment.

Res Judicata and Double Jeopardy

Double jeopardy is a principle of law available in criminal matter where a defendant is not allowed to be tried twice before the same court on the same crime. Double jeopardy is available in criminal law while Res Judicata is available in civil matter. It is always expected of the parties pleading this plea of double jeopardy to go ahead and establish before the court that he was tried already by the same court or by court of coordinate jurisdiction.

He will establish further while laying his defence that he was convicted or acquitted in the former trial or that after the trial when he was convicted, he was pardoned by the president or any other person with the right to do so.

The principle of law remains that equity aid the vigilant and not the indolent, the onus of laying this defence lies on the defendant who should be awake to his case and will rush to remind the court not to try his matter twice.

However, if the court is convinced that the crime is a new one or a separate one, they can always forge ahead to try it not minding the plea of double jeopardy. Also remember that a party that was not fully tried by the court over a criminal matter may not enjoy that privilege of pleading double jeopardy. The full trial is that you were either convicted or acquitted in the case. However, if the matter was struck out or paused by the state through the power of nolle prosequi then you won’t run to the plea of double jeopardy if they want to reinstitute the action against you.

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It will also be important to note that this principle of double jeopardy just demand that parties should try and put their best in course of the criminal proceeding and that after the trial at the court of first instance, that any party disfavoured shall only have the option of appealing or filing for the review of the matter.

To review a matter is just to revisit a matter for the purpose of scrutinizing the steps followed in reaching the law and it may enable the court who decided the matter to either upheld their judgement or to overturn the judgment. However, there are certain circumstances when judgement may be overturn during review. For example, where the judgement was obtained by fraud or there is a material misrepresentation of fact by the party who obtained judgment in his favour.

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