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Doctrine (rules)

of
Precedent
Overview, Binding and Persuasive
predent

PRECEDENT a definition

Precedent is a major source of law


precedent is all the
decisions I have made
in the past that other
judges now follow.

Precedent is also known as


CASE LAW

PRECEDENT and Stare Decisis


It means let the previous decision stand.
Its important because Points of law decided in previous similar cases
must be followed.
Earlier decisions influence later cases that are
similar.
Higher courts assume priority over lower courts.
Higher courts therefore BIND lower courts.
The system is predictable, fair and consistent.
Binding precedent is the most important part of
Stare decisis - it provides consistency in law

A Level Law - Hierarchy of courts Civil Courts


Binds all
Courts but only
On European law

Binds itself
And lower courts

European Court of Justice


Supreme Court

Only court that can


Overrule its own
decisions

Binds itself
And lower courts

Court of Appeal Civil Division

Binds itself
And lower courts

Divisional courts

Binds itself
And lower courts

High Court

Doesnt bind
any court

Magistrates Court

County Court

A Level Law - Hierarchy of courts Criminal Courts


Binds itself
And lower courts

Binds itself
And lower courts

Binds itself
And lower courts

Supreme Court

Only court that can


Overrule its own
decisions

Court of Appeal Criminal Division


Queens Bench Divisional court

Doesnt bind
any court

Crown Court

Doesnt bind
any court

Magistrates Court

Stare Decisis
wheres it all written down?
For stare decisis to work judges need access to
details of past cases.
Earliest cases 13th century.
1865 Council of Law Reporting established.
Most widely used modern record All England Law
Reports.
LEXIS electronic law reporting system.
Huge increase in electronic systems and data-bases
on-line through the internet.
Web portal to cases and blogs on law - See Matrix
Churchill blog.
Case notes of A level law. LRC E law student.

PRECEDENT and the ratio decidendi

It means the reason for deciding


If the obiter dicta explains how I got to my decision . . .

the ratio decidendi


is the heart of the actual
decision itself

The ratio decidendi is what later judges


must follow - the essence of Stare decisis

The ratio decidendi is the KEY to the decision


that has been made.

The ratio decidendi BINDS later judges hearing similar cases.


This especially the case in lower courts and the same court.

PRECEDENT and Obiter Dicta

It means other things said.


As I make my judgement, I may
give supporting arguments and
points that explain how I arrived
at my decision in order to make
my judgement clearer.

how the decision


might affect future
situations

Obiter
dicta may
include

my thought
processes

why I arrived at this


decision, and not
another

PRECEDENT THE KEY TERMS


PROBLEMS
Cases often end with more
than one speech. Upto 9 in
the Supreme Court.

STARE DECISIS

No sub-headings in
judgments to help separate
ratio decidendi from obiter
dicta.
Other things
said judges in
future cases do
not have to
follow it.

OBITER DICTA

Precedent all
the decisions
made in the
past that other
judges now
follow

Stand by what
has been
decided do not
unsettle the
established.

The reason for


the decision.
Judges in the
same or lower
courts must
follow where
facts are similar.

RATIO DECIDENDI