Nobody should be vexed for same act twice. The maxim Nemo Debet Bis Vexari
Pro Una Et Eadem Causa
is supposed to originate from old administrative law in
Rome.[i] This term in Latin translates to 'no one shall be harassed twice for
the same cause' roughly.[ii] The principle refuses the need for subsequent
trials where justice is served at the outset through the judicial mechanism
Generally, the principle possess two rules broadly applied through
jurisprudence. First, the verdict of the first trial should be consistent with
the law. Second, it does not apply when new evidence emerges after the first
trial or if the first verdict was obtained by fraud.[iii]
Development over the 1800sMarriot v. Hampton
is one of the first recorded instances using this principle.[iv] Subsequently, it became foundational to jurisprudence on the
principle. English cases heard after the decision either utilized it as
precedent or reject it in the establishment of newer interpretations. Marriot
sued Hampton for the price of goods sold, for which Hampton had before paid, and
obtained a receipt.
As Hampton was not able to find the receipt, and had no
other proof of the payment, Hampton was obliged to submit to pay the money again
but having afterwards found the missing document, he brought an action against
Marriot for money had and received. However, Lord Kenyon was of opinion that,
the money had been paid under legal process, and it could not be recovered back
again and this opinion was fully confirmed by the Court.
It was laid down that,
where one party to the other has paid money after bona fide legal proceedings,
even if the money is later discovered not to have been due, the party who has
paid will nevertheless be barred from recovering the money.[v] The same
interpretation was used with payment being made without factual knowledge of the
facts in cases like Hamlet v. Richardson
In Todd v. Stewart, it was held that the effect of judgment for a sum less than
that sued for in the action then before the Court was considered. Such an action
of debt is on simple contract for a monetary sum. Stewart pleaded as to a sum
lower than the action of debt sum for payment, and as being impleaded for action
on promises, and recovered a sum lower that demanded as well for their damages
in the said action as for their costs. It was alleged that the residue were not
the causes of action in respect of which the judgment was recovered. It was held
by the Court of Exchequer Chamber that the above plea was good after verdict,
and that it amounted to an ordinary plea of judgment recovered. [vii]
cases such as Outram v. Morewood
submitted to the aforementioned reasoning and
remarked that that a judgment recovered will be admissible as evidence except
between the same parties.[viii] Trevivan v. Lawrence
interpreted the reasoning
as suing in the same right. Thus, extending to between privies in blood, law, or estate.[ix] In
Kinnersley v. Cope
it was held that a judgment will be evidence
between those who nominally are not, but in reality are substantially the same parties. [x]
The ruling in King v. Hoare
held that a judgment without satisfaction recovered
against one of two joint debtors may be pleaded in bar of an action against the
other contracting party. It observed that in situations of a breach of contract
by one against another, and judgment be recovered in a court of record, the
judgment is a bar to the original cause of action. This is a result of it being
reduced to a certainty. The object of the suit would be useless and vexatious to
subject to another suit for obtaining the same result. [xi]
Development over the 1900s
In 1900s, the Harrop v. Harrop
applied the principle with some new
reasoning.[xii] It held that a judgment or a sentence is a judicial
determination of cause agitated by the parties upon which a real interest has
been settled. [xiii] Providing for the requisites that must exist for a case and
in turn, its judgment to legitimate. [xiv] It states that five elements for a
valid judgment. First, the interest of the parties must be real. Second,
argumentation provided by the counsels must be genuine. Third, the prosecution
must be genuine. Fourth, the defence must be real. Lastly, the decision must be
Furthermore, instances like the decision in Brandon v. Becher
state that no
requisites provided under these five elements can exist in a fraudulent suit.
The judge claims that there is no judge, instead they are just a person invested
with the ensigns of a judicial office and is misemployed in listening to a
fictitious cause proposed. Furthermore, no party litigating, no party defending
and no real interest that can exist in such a suit.[xvi]
The principle is often encompassed within most modern conceptions of 'double
jeopardy'. For example, Article 20 (2) of the Constitution of India mandates
that 'no person shall be prosecuted and punished for the same offence more than
once'. This is represents double jeopardy. Referring to the danger of conviction
that an accused person is subjected to when tried. [xvii]
Nations such as Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands,
Pakistan, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United
States all possess differing legislations and jurisprudences on double jeopardy
and transitively, on this principle.
Nemo Debet Bis Vexari Pro Una Et Eadem
exists to compliment the process of
delivering administrative justice. The principle has evolved through
interpretation over time. In the 1800s, courts interpreted the principle to turn
the deployment of justice easier. The dichotomy of justice that plagued this
principle was between the swiftness and the denial. In the 1900s, courts choose
to explicitly map out the functionality of the principle positively and
negatively. It was essential to curb the probable exploitation of this
principle. Today, this principle is most commonly contained within the
conception of double jeopardy existing as a relevant safeguard statutorily
My research in Legal Language at Government Law College under the University of
Mumbai's 60-40 grading scheme from 2018 (cancelled) was foundational to writing
- See Herbert Broom, a Selection of Legal Maxims 326 (1874),
- See Jon R. Stone, the Routledge Dictionary of Latin Quotations, 69 (2005).
- Supra Note 1, p.330.
- Supra Note 1, p.331.
- Marriot v. Hampton, 7 T. R. 269, cited in Supra Note 1, p.331.
- E.g., Hamlet v. Richardson, 9 Bing. 644, 645 (23 E. C. L. K.) cited in
Supra Note 1, p.331.
- Todd v. Stewart 1 9 Q. B. 758, 767 (59 E. C. L. R.) cited in Supra Note
- Outram v. Morewood, 3 East 346 cited in Supra Note 1, p.335.
- Trevivan v. Lawrence, Salk. 276 cited in Supra Note 1, p.335.
- Kinnersley v. Cope, 2 Dougl. 517 cited in Supra Note 1, p.335.
- King v. Hoare 13 M. & W. 494 cited in Supra Note 1, p.335.
- See Herbert Broom, a Selection of Legal Maxims 217 (1939),
- Harrop v. Harrop, three K. B. 386 cited in Ibid.
- See Supra Note 13.
- Supra Note 14.
- Brandon v. Becher, 3 CI. & F. 479 cited in Supra Note 13.
- See Shipra Arora, Double Jeopardy - Can an accused be actually punished
twice for same offence in India (2010).