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English Legal System

English Legal System (3rd edn)

Steve Wilson, Helen Rutherford, Tony Storey, and Natalie Wortley
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date: 25 October 2021

p. 1475. The doctrine of judicial precedentlocked

p. 1475. The doctrine of judicial precedentlocked

  • Steve Wilson, Steve Wilsonformer Principal Lecturer, Northumbria University, Newcastle
  • Helen Rutherford, Helen RutherfordSenior Lecturer and Solicitor, Northumbria University, Newcastle
  • Tony StoreyTony StoreySenior Lecturer, Northumbria University, Newcastle
  •  and Natalie WortleyNatalie WortleyAssociate Professor of Law, Northumbria University, Newcastle


Judge-made law to be found in the case law is governed by the doctrine of judicial precedent. The rule on which a case is decided is called the ratio decidendi and other statements of law not affecting the outcome of a case are termed obiter dicta. Whether one court is bound by the ratio decidendi of another court depends upon the position of the court in the hierarchy of the hierarchy of the courts. The doctrine of binding precedent is alternatively known as the doctrine of stare decisis. A precedent may be avoided by the processes of overruling, distinguishing and reversing. The relationship between the English courts and the Court of Justice of the European Union (EU) and the European Court of Human Rights is considered.

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