Posted by Nicola Cutler, Associate
Res Judicata, diamonds and Russian millionaires – all in a day’s work for the High Court
In a recent case, the High Court re-visits the legal principle which prevents parties from bringing a fresh claim on the same facts by “attacking from a different angle”.
Russian-Israeli businessman and millionaire, Arkady Gaydamak has been barred by the legal doctrine “Res Judicata” from seeking a second trial of the same dispute which he had already lost nearly two years previously.
Res Judicata is a Latin term, translated into English means “a matter already judged”. The doctrine in the context of litigation means that a legal issue or dispute which has already been determined by a court or settled between the parties stops those parties from attempting to re-litigate on the same issues. It operates in a similar way to the criminal principle of “double jeopardy” which prevents someone convicted or acquitted of a crime being re-tried for the same crime.
A long-running feud relating to the export of diamonds from Angola between Mr Gaydamak and his business rival Lev Leviev was the subject of a hefty legal battle which ended up in court in 2012 and Mr Gaydamak had lost. He went on to make an application to appeal that decision but was refused permission. The legal issue was therefore fully “determined”.
Despite this, the feud rumbled on and in these new proceedings Mr Gaydamak attempted to rely on an issue which he had not raised in the first claim. However, the court concluded that the issue ought to have been raised in the first claim and the new point was therefore barred from being litigated over again. In any event, Mr Gaydamak’s attempt to re-litigate on an issue which had already been decided by a court amounted to an abuse of process.
The whole of Mr Gaydamak’s claim against Mr Leviev, which Mr Gaydamak valued at $2 billion, was therefore struck out.
The principle applies to all claims and means that it is important to ensure that all issues between the parties which arise from the same dispute are included from the outset.
If you would like to read a copy of the Gaydamak v Leviev judgment, you can do so here: http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Ch/2014/1167.html
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