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Shabbat Parashat Ki Teitzei 5779

P'ninat Mishpat: Authority of the Beit Din to Hear Arguably Late Appeal

(based on ruling 75001 of the Eretz Hemdah-Gazit Rabbinical Courts)

Case: Beit din rendered a partial ruling on some of the matters in disagreement. More than 30 days after the partial ruling, but before the end of adjudication, the defendant (=def) claimed to have found proof that the plaintiff (=pl) deceived beit din in a way that was responsible for the ruling. Def claims that whenever proof is brought, it should be accepted. Pl argues that according to this beit din’s rules, one only has 30 days, which have passed.  


Ruling: According to Halacha, it is possible to overturn a ruling by new evidence at any point (Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 20:1). According to the rules of our beit din, which operates according to the authority provided by the Law of Arbitration, once a ruling is given, it can be overturned only through the appeal process as prescribed in our rules and procedures. The reason for preferring the Law of Arbitration is that this is the only way to make rulings enforceable, and only when a beit din can enforce a ruling is it required to adjudicate (see Eretz Hemdah-Gazit ruling 74092). The rule in our batei din, is that we will not adjudicate when the sides cannot enforce our ruling.  

According to the Law of Arbitration (Par. 21), a partial ruling has the same status as a full ruling regarding its finality. If the sides agreed in advance through an arbitration agreement that there will be a possibility of appeal, then that process can undo the ruling. Our arbitration agreement sets out an appeal procedure which gives thirty days to appeal. However [at the time] it did not state explicitly if the thirty days are counted from the time of the partial ruling or the end of the adjudication. Although there is some logic in both directions, the point of departure has to be that the time is from the partial ruling.

Since beit din has to adjudicate further on the dispute, we recommend that def present his new proofs, which may have an impact on the rest of the case. If it turns out that it does not impact the partial ruling, beit din will be able to explain this in its final ruling and hopefully put def’s mind at rest. If it information should change the ruling, beit din can deal with the ramifications at that time. One of the possibilities is for def to appeal to the regional courts to allow the arbitrator’s authority to extend to the matter of the partial ruling based on the new information.  
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