Background
Submissions
Judgment


In a judgment lodged on November 13 2000 (RJ 7727) the Supreme Court addressed the issues that arise from a connection between two pending proceedings.

Background

An individual filed a lawsuit against another individual seeking a declaration of nullity for the acquisition of a piece of land in Seville.

While that process was in progress one of the litigant parties died. His heirs pursued the claim. They also initiated a fresh process against the other litigant party claiming ownership of the property.

Submissions

The defendant in the second claim alleged that the claimant acted in violation of the rule that prevents the same dispute from being judged by two different judges.

The submission was based on the reasoning that both lawsuits referred to the same issue expressed in a different manner.

The claimant in the second lawsuit argued that the disputes were not the same and moreover that the parties to both claims were not the same, because the first lawsuit was filed by an individual who then died and the second claim had been issued by his heirs.

Judgment

The Supreme Court began by noting that the disputes arising from the connection between two proceedings are governed by Section 1252 of the Spanish Civil Code, in line with the principle of res judicata ('the thing has been decided'). This rule refers to situations where one of the proceedings has already finished and one of the litigant parties files a new lawsuit on the same dispute. According to this principle, once decided a matter cannot be the subject of a new proceeding.

This rationale must also be applied to situations in which the first proceeding is already in progress. Therefore, if one of the litigants files a new lawsuit on the same dispute, the second judge will have to dismiss it.

The Supreme Court found that the claim of nullity of the acquisition of one party and the claim of ownership were in fact the same dispute, although expressed differently.

As to the matter of different individuals pursuing each of the lawsuits, the Supreme Court understood that the fact that the the same individual did not file the second lawsuit was irrelevant because the claimants were the heirs of the first claimant.

The second lawsuit was dismissed on the grounds that that dispute was already being dealt with by another judge.


For further information on this topic please contact Jorge Hern├índez or Jorge Capell by telephone (+34 9152 47100) or by fax (+34 9152 47153) or by e-mail ([email protected] or [email protected]).


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