English Law And Doctrine Called Binding Precedent
English Law is based on a doctrine called binding precedent
The practice of following precedent can be justified by two mainpractical considerations. First, and above all, the practice isconservative: it provides a relatively stable basis forreplicable decisions. People need to be able to predict theactions of the courts and formulate plans accordingly. Staredecisis serves as a check against arbitrary judicialdecisions. Second, the practice is still reasonablyprogressive: it allows for the gradual evolution of thelaw. Careful judges distinguish bad decisions; new values and anew consensus can emerge in a series of decisions over time.
Ziff Blog | Senior Lecturer at the University of …
Arguably, the most promising available defense of analogicalreasoning may be found in its application to case law (see ).Judicial decisions are basedon the verdicts and reasoning that have governed relevantly similarcases, according to the doctrine of stare decisis (Levi 1949;Llewellyn 1960; Cross and Harris 1991; Sunstein 1993). Individualdecisions by a court are binding on that court and lowercourts; judges are obligated to decide future cases ‘in the sameway.’ That is, the reasoning applied in an individualdecision, referred to as the ratio decidendi, must be applied to similar future cases (see ).In practice, of course, the situation is extremelycomplex. No two cases are identical. The ratiomust be understood in the context of the facts of the original case,and there is considerable room for debate about its generality and itsapplicability to future cases. If a consensus emerges that a pastcase was wrongly decided, later judgments will distinguish itfrom new cases, effectively restricting the scope of the ratioto the original case.