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Shabbat Parashat Noach 5772

P'ninat Mishpat: Rejection of a Late Request for Appeal

(based on Shurat Hadin, vol. VIII, pp. 561-562)

[Usually we (and the forums from which we condense our presentations) do not mention the litigants’ names. However this short piece relates, not by chance, to one of the most famous cases in the history of Israeli jurisprudence, certainly in regard to the relationship between the Israeli Supreme Court and the Religious Court system. This is the case of Bavli v. Bavli, where the Supreme Court severely limited beit din’s ability to rule according to Torah law. The attempted appeal before us is apparently (one of) the last legal battles in this saga.]

 

An appeal to a previous ruling was presented to the Supreme Religious Court on a regional court ruling more than thirty days after the ruling was rendered. The Regulations on Adjudication state that appeals must be made within thirty days of the rendering of the ruling to be appealed. If the sides were not informed in advance of the date the ruling would be handed down, then the sides have thirty days from the time they were informed that the ruling was given.

In this case, the plaintiff’s lawyer found out about the handing down of the ruling from the opposing side, who faxed him a copy of the ruling. The plaintiff claims that the quality of the fax was not good so that sections were not effectively received. The lawyers of the two sides met soon thereafter. The plaintiff received the official copy from the court, for some reason, a few weeks later, and the appeal was made within thirty days of that time.

 In general, in such matters, the rabbinical courts to do not quibble over the fine details of deadlines and procedure when there is a need to clarify a matter of concern in the carriage of justice. However, in this case, where adjudication has been going on between the Bavlis for sixteen years, in a variety of forums, with endless energy and legal costs involved, there is an interest to put an end to further adjudication. While the name Bavli has become a major part of the public and legal world’s language, there are people who stand behind that name. Those people deserve closure, not the opportunity to provide the legal world with more interesting rulings. Therefore, we will follow the strict letter of the law and refuse to hear the appeal on procedural grounds.

The Regulations of Adjudication do not state that the side that wants to appeal must receive a copy of the ruling from the offices of the court in order for the thirty-day limit to begin to be counted. It says that the sides must know that it was given. In this case, not only did they receive a fax of the ruling, but the two lawyers met to discuss the ruling more than thirty days before the appeal. In fact, many lawyers throughout the country received copies of the ruling by that time. Therefore, it is inconceivable that the plaintiff was not aware of the ruling just because the official copy was delayed in arriving.

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