The legal principle upon which a case is decided on is called the ratio decidendi. With reference to cases Donoghue v Stevenson ,Tucker v News Media Ownership Ltd and Caparo Industries plc v Dickman, I will be arguing that it is better to state the ratio of a case broadly. In section I, this essay will examine the flexibility that broad rationes bring in relation to Donoghue v Stevenson. In section II I will reason how broad ratios avoid silos, with regard to the flood-gates argument. Section III will state the inappropriate application that narrow ratios can form in relation to privacy law in New Zealand. This essay will conclude that broad ratios further reflect social attitudes and prevent certain minority groups being excluded from the law, and therefore society.
I) The flexibility of broad ratios
With broad ratios the rule can be extended to include other aspects, such as that in the case of Donoghue v Stevenson, in which Lord Buckmaster states “If such a duty exists, it seems to me it must cover the construction of every article…If one step, why not fifty?” This flexibility encourages growth within the law. Because courts are guided by the decisions of previous cases, flexibility causes areas that have not been handled appropriately by parliament to be addressed by the judiciary. Flexibility means that it is possible to narrow a broad ratio, rather than broadening a narrow ratio, which is more difficult. This is shown in Caparo Industries plc v Dickman, in which Lord Atkin’s ‘Neighbour’ principle was narrowed due to the flooding of cases being brought forth. For the law to show flexibility, there needs to be progression and development. Judicial activism is encouraged with flexibility and this causes societ...
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...ess issues that have arisen, it is the judiciary 's place to interfere in order to avoid breaches of rights.
ConclusionIn order for the law to reflect the ever evolving modern society, broad rationes are better equipped. Narrow rationes, unlike wide rationes, do provide consistency and predictability, which are both key aspects of what the law should uphold. One act of common law however is to follow societal values and ideas and to develop with the times. When parliament does not address areas that need to be developed or improved, it is the role of the judiciary to fill this gap. To conclude, there needs to be a harmony in order for an acceptable ratio to evolve. With broad rationes more availability is provided in order to develop new areas of the law and to promote due process. Broad rationes are better because they provide the function of being inclusive to all.
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