Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

When the Court can Reverse its Decision

Cotter, John



It is a long established principle that a court has jurisdiction to reverse its decision at any time until the order is perfected, but not afterwards.1 Until early 2013, the courts of England and Wales had taken a restrictive approach in identifying circumstances in which it would be appropriate for a court to exercise this jurisdiction; the Court of Appeal ruling in a series of cases that it should not be exercised “save in most exceptional circumstances”2 or where there were “strong reasons”3 for doing so. This approach, synthesised by the Court of Appeal in Paulin v Paulin4 , was approved by Clarke J in the High Court in In Re McInerney Homes Ltd5 as representing the law in Ireland. In February 2013, however, the UK Supreme Court in In re L6 rejected the approach taken theretofore, ruling that jurisdiction to reverse before the perfection of an order was not limited to exceptional circumstances and that the overriding objective in the exercise of the power was to deal with the case in question justly. This article sets out a brief history of the jurisdiction and the development of the courts’ attitude to its exercise, before moving on to more recent developments including Irish acceptance of the approach ofthe Court of Appeal in Paulin and the subsequent rejection by the UK Supreme Court of that approach. Finally, the article will ask whether the Irish courts should retain the status quo or whether the latest approach of the UK Supreme Court should be adopted in Ireland.


Cotter, J. (2014). When the Court can Reverse its Decision

Acceptance Date Dec 1, 2014
Publication Date Dec 1, 2014
Journal Bar Review
Print ISSN 1339-3426
Publisher URL