Thursday, February 11, 2010

Res Judicata and Stare Decisis by Jeannie Boado


Latin term for "a matter [already] judged",
• refers to two things: in both civil law and common law legal systems --


It forbids the reopening of a matter that has already been finally adjudicated by competent authority This is better known as the rule of res judicata. (Sta, Ana vs. Narvades, 30 SCRA 454)

The underlying principles upon which this doctrine rests are:

(1) That parties ought not to be permitted to litigate the same issue more than once; that when a right or fact has been judicially tried and determined by a court of competent jurisdiction, or an opportunity for such trial has been given, the judgment of the court, so long as it remains unrevised, should be conclusive upon the parties and those in privacy with them in law or estate. (Sarabia vs. Secretary, 2 SCRA 54; Aquino vs. Sanvictores, 89 Phil. 532)

(2) This rule applies even when the causes of action in the two suits are wholly different. (Lopena vs. Pagsisihan, 580. G. 7719) To once again reopen the issue through a different avenue would defeat the existence of our courts as final arbiters of legal controversies. (Calusin et al. vs. CA et al. June 21, 2000)

"The doctrine of res judicata is an old axiom of the law, dictated by wisdom and sanctified by age, and is founded on the broad principle that it is to the interest of the public that there should be an end to litigation by the same parties over a subject once fully and fairly adjudicated". (Filipinas Investment and Financing Corp. vs. ICA, 179 SCRA 728) It is to the interest of the public that there should be an end to litigation over a subject fully and fairly adjudicated, and an individual should not be vexed twice for the same cause. (Carlet vs. CA, 275 SCRA 97).

(3) The doctrine of res judicata applies as well to the judicial and quasijudicial acts of public, executive, or administrative officers and bodies such as labor tribunals---as to judgments of courts having judicial powers.(Brifiantes vs. Castro, 99 Phil. 503citing 50 C.3.S., Sec. 90, pp. 148-149).


In order that the doctrine of res judicata shall apply, the following requisites should be present:

(a) The former judgment or order must be final;
(b) It must have been rendered by a court having jurisdiction of the subject matter and the parties;
(c) It must be a judgment or order on the merits; and
(d) There must be between the first and second actions identity of parties, of subject matter, and of cause of action. A change in the form of action or in the relief sought does not remove a proper case from the application of its judicata. (Carlet vs. CA, supra).

Res judicata is one of the grounds for a Motion to Dismissal complaint.


Stare decisis is the legal principle by which judges are obliged to obey the precedents established by prior decisions. The words originate from the Latin phrase Stare decisis et non quieta movere, "Maintain what has been decided and do not alter that which has been established".

However, the doctrine of stare decisis is not always to be relied upon, for the courts find it necessary to overrule cases, which have been hastily decided, or contrary to principle.

Although the doctrine of stare decisis does not prevent reexamining and, if need be, overruling prior decisions, "It is . . . a fundamental jurisprudential policy that prior applicable precedent usually must be followed even though the case, if considered anew, might be decided differently by the current justices. This policy . . . 'is based on the assumption that certainty, predictability and stability in the law are the major objectives of the legal system; i.e., that parties should be able to regulate their conduct and enter into relationships with reasonable assurance of the governing rules of law.'" (Moradi-Shalal v. Fireman's Fund Ins. Companies (1988) 46 Cal.3d 287, 296.)

The principle of stare decisis can be divided into two components.

(1) a decision made by a superior court is binding precedent (also known as mandatory authority) which an inferior court cannot change.

(2)a court should not overturn its own precedents unless there is a strong reason to do so and should be guided by principles from lateral and inferior courts.

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