Judicial Precedent

492 Words2 Pages
Judicial Precedent Where the facts of a case are similar to a one which has already been decided, the judge must follow that previous decision, especially if the decision was reached by a higher court in the hierarchy. This is the basis of judicial precedent and is called stare decisis-‘let the decision stand.’ After hearing a case, a judge presents his written judgement (case law) which sets out the facts of the case and legal principles used. The legal principles are set out in the ratio decendi-‘reasons for deciding.’ The ratio decendi also forms the basis of binding precedent. Obiter dicta is another part of the judgment and means ‘things said by the way.’ This forms the basis of persuasive precedent. For the system of precedent to work there must be strict rules for a judge to follow. There is a system of hierarchy where higher courts bind lower courts. The European Court of Justice binds all UK courts. The House of Lords is the highest appeal court in UK. Binds all lower courts and itself unless the decision was ‘per incuriam’ (in error) or it uses the Practise Statement 1966, which is used very sparingly and only when it would be just or right to depart from an earlier decision. The Court of Appeal binds all lower courts and itself unless under Young v Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd where the decision was per incuriam or where two Court of Appeal decisions conflict or where House of Lords decision overrules the Court of Appeal. The lowest court in the hierarchy is the Magistrates court. They are bound by all higher courts. Its decisions do not form binding or persuasive precedents. For the doctrine of precedent to work there must be an accurate record of law reporting e.g. All England Law Reports and Weekly Law Reports. When faced with a precedent a judge can do one of four things. Follow. If the facts are sufficiently similar, the court must follow the precedent and apply the law in the same way.

More about Judicial Precedent

Open Document