What Is the Meaning of Without Prejudice?

By Beverly Bird
You can't dismiss a case without prejudice after the matter's been resolved by court order.

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Lawsuits can be dismissed for any number of reasons, either by the court or by the individuals who file them. The term “without prejudice” means that when your case is dismissed, you reserve the right to file it again later, even if your new suit deals with the exact same claim or issue. If you dismiss your lawsuit "with prejudice," you’re barred from ever bringing the matter to the court’s attention again, so if you’re considering dismissing your case, speak with a legal professional first.

Reasons for Dismissal Without Prejudice

You might want to dismiss your divorce case if you and your spouse have reconciled. If you do so without prejudice, you can file again later if the reconciliation doesn’t work out. If you dismiss a small claims suit or personal injury negligence case because you’ve settled with the other party, you can’t do so without prejudice if the court has already issued an order approving terms of settlement agreement. When the court dismisses a case without prejudice, it’s usually because the plaintiff -- the person who filed the lawsuit -- violated procedural rules in some way. The judge will allow him to file the same case again so he can do it correctly the next time.

About the Author

Beverly Bird has been writing professionally since 1983. She is the author of several novels including the bestselling "Comes the Rain" and "With Every Breath." Bird also has extensive experience as a paralegal, primarily in the areas of divorce and family law, bankruptcy and estate law. She covers many legal topics in her articles.

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