Define: Irregular Judgement

Irregular Judgement
Irregular Judgement
Quick Summary of Irregular Judgement

Irregular judgement refers to a court decision that may be invalidated due to a mistake or error in the way it was made, such as a failure to follow proper procedures or a mistake made by the court clerk. A judgement is a final decision made by a court that determines the rights and obligations of the parties involved in a case, including orders for payment and property.

What is the dictionary definition of Irregular Judgement?
Dictionary Definition of Irregular Judgement

The final decision regarding the rights and responsibilities of the parties involved in a case that could potentially be invalidated due to a procedural error during its issuance. One such example is when a clerk neglects to notify the defendant.

Full Definition Of Irregular Judgement

Irregular judgement is a concept within British law that refers to a judgement rendered without following proper legal procedures or statutory requirements. It can occur in various forms, including but not limited to procedural errors, lack of jurisdiction, and ex parte decisions. This overview examines the nature, causes, implications, and remedies associated with irregular judgements within the British legal framework.

Definition and Nature of Irregular Judgement

An irregular judgement is essentially a court decision that is legally flawed due to non-compliance with procedural rules or substantive legal requirements. This flaw can arise at any stage of the legal process, from filing the lawsuit to the final decision. The irregularity may be procedural, such as failing to serve notice to the defendant, or it could be substantive, involving a misapplication of the law.

The Causes of Irregular Judgements

The primary causes of irregular judgements can be broadly categorized as follows:

Procedural Errors

Procedural errors are the most common cause of irregular judgements. These errors include improper service of process, incorrect filing procedures, or failure to adhere to time limits prescribed by law. For instance, if a defendant is not properly notified of a lawsuit against them, any judgement rendered in their absence can be deemed irregular.

Lack of Jurisdiction

A court must have both subject-matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction to render a valid judgement. If a court lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter of the case or over the parties involved, any judgement it issues will be irregular. For example, a family court rendering a decision on a commercial contract dispute would be acting outside its jurisdiction.

Ex Parte Decisions

Ex parte decisions, made without the presence or notification of the opposing party, can often lead to irregular judgements, especially if the absence was due to a lack of proper notification or an unjustified denial of the opportunity to be heard.

Errors in Law

Judgements based on an incorrect application or interpretation of the law can also be classified as irregular. These errors may involve misinterpretation of statutes, reliance on outdated or overruled precedents, or incorrect application of legal principles.

Legal Consequences of Irregular Judgement

Irregular judgements have significant legal implications, including:

Void or Voidable Judgements

An irregular judgement can be either void or voidable. A void judgement is null from the outset and has no legal effect, often due to a fundamental lack of jurisdiction. A voidable judgement, however, remains effective until it is successfully challenged and set aside.

Impact on Parties

Irregular judgements can severely affect the parties involved. The party against whom the judgement is rendered may suffer unjust penalties, while the party in whose favour the judgement is made may face delays and additional legal costs if the judgement is challenged and overturned.

Precedential Value

Irregular judgements generally lack precedential value because they are not based on correct legal principles or proper procedure. Courts are unlikely to rely on such judgements in future cases.

Remedies for Irregular Judgements

The law provides several remedies for addressing irregular judgements:


One of the primary remedies for irregular judgements is an appeal to a higher court. The appellate court can review the judgement for procedural and substantive errors, and if found irregular, can overturn or modify the decision.

Setting Aside Judgement

A party can apply to the court that issued the judgement to have it set aside. This application must usually be made within a specific timeframe and must demonstrate that the judgement was irregular due to procedural or other errors.

Judicial Review

In cases involving administrative decisions, judicial review may be sought. This process allows a higher court to examine the legality and procedural fairness of the decision-making process.


In some instances, a re-hearing of the case may be ordered. This is particularly common in cases where ex parte decisions were made without giving the affected party an opportunity to present their case.

Case Law and Statutory Framework

Key Cases

Several key cases in British law illustrate the principles and application of remedies for irregular judgements:

  • Anlaby v. Praetorius (1888): This case established that a judgement obtained without proper service of process is irregular and can be set aside upon application by the affected party.
  • Craig v. Kanssen (1943): In this case, the House of Lords held that a judgement rendered without jurisdiction is void and can be challenged at any time.
  • Barclays Bank plc v. TOSG Trust Fund Ltd. (1984): This case dealt with an application to set aside a judgement on the grounds of procedural irregularity, highlighting the importance of following proper procedural rules.

Statutory Provisions

Several statutes govern the procedures and remedies related to irregular judgements:

  • Civil Procedure Rules (CPR): The CPR outlines the procedural requirements for civil litigation, including service of process, filing procedures, and time limits. Non-compliance with these rules can lead to irregular judgements.
  • Supreme Court Act 1981: This act provides for appeals and other remedies against irregular judgements rendered by the High Court and Court of Appeal.
  • Human Rights Act 1998: This act ensures that all legal proceedings comply with the European Convention on Human Rights, including the right to a fair trial, which encompasses protection against irregular judgements.

Practical Considerations

Identifying Irregular Judgements

Legal practitioners must be vigilant when identifying potential irregular judgements. This involves thorough review of the procedural history of the case, ensuring compliance with statutory requirements, and scrutinising the legal basis of the judgement.

Challenging Irregular Judgements

When challenging an irregular judgement, it is crucial to gather all relevant evidence demonstrating the irregularity, such as proof of improper service or lack of jurisdiction. Timely action is also important, as delays can complicate the process of setting aside or appealing the judgement.

Preventive Measures

To prevent irregular judgements, legal practitioners should adhere strictly to procedural rules, ensure proper service of process, verify the jurisdiction of the court, and present a robust legal argument based on current law. Regular training and staying updated on procedural changes are also essential.


Irregular judgements represent a significant concern in the British legal system due to their potential to cause injustice and undermine the integrity of judicial proceedings. Understanding the causes, consequences, and remedies associated with irregular judgements is crucial for legal practitioners and parties involved in litigation. Through vigilant practice, timely challenges, and adherence to procedural and substantive legal standards, the incidence of irregular judgements can be minimized, thereby upholding the principles of fairness and justice in the legal system.

Irregular Judgement FAQ'S

An irregular judgment refers to a court decision that deviates from the normal legal procedures or fails to comply with the established rules of law.

The consequences of an irregular judgment can vary depending on the specific circumstances. In some cases, it may be possible to appeal the decision and have it overturned. However, if the irregularity is not significant or does not affect the outcome of the case, the judgment may still stand.

To determine if a judgment is irregular, it is advisable to consult with a legal professional who can review the case details and identify any deviations from the normal legal procedures or rules.

Yes, an irregular judgment can be challenged through the appeals process. However, it is important to note that not all irregularities may be sufficient grounds for overturning a judgment. The specific circumstances and the impact of the irregularity on the outcome of the case will be considered.

Examples of irregular judgments may include cases where the judge did not allow proper presentation of evidence, failed to follow proper court procedures, or showed bias or prejudice during the trial.

The time limit to challenge an irregular judgment varies depending on the jurisdiction and the type of case. It is crucial to consult with a legal professional promptly to determine the applicable time limit and initiate the necessary legal actions.

In some cases, it may be possible to correct an irregular judgment without going through the appeals process. This can be done by filing a motion to set aside the judgment or seeking a review from a higher court.

The burden of proof in challenging an irregular judgment typically lies with the party seeking to have the judgment overturned. They must provide evidence and arguments demonstrating the irregularity and its impact on the fairness of the decision.

If a judge is found to have acted improperly or irregularly, there may be legal consequences. This can include disciplinary actions by the judicial conduct board or even removal from the bench, depending on the severity of the irregularity.

To protect yourself from an irregular judgment, it is crucial to have competent legal representation throughout the legal process. A skilled attorney can ensure that your rights are protected, proper procedures are followed, and any irregularities are addressed promptly.

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This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 7th June 2024.

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