Judicial Precedent (Ro.: precedent judiciar, Fr.: règle du precedent, De.: Präzedenzfall, Gr.: Precedent Gjyqësor) (See also: (vertical and horizontal) stare decisis, ratio decidendi, obiter dictum, holding, statutory interpretation)) = legal principle establishing that a court’s previous decision will be binding or persuasive, when deciding subsequent cases with similar facts. The principle has applicability mainly in common law jurisdiction, as in civil law systems it would violate the rule that only the legislature is able to make law. The corresponding principle in civil law is jurisprudence constante, which dictates that a lengthy series of previous decisions in relation to a particular law is very important and may be determinative in subsequent cases.

Overruling a ~ = a court higher in the hierarchy departs from a decision made in a lower court.

Distinguishing a ~ = a court deems the fact of the case under consideration as sufficiently different from that of a legal precedent, which is thus not binding. 


Useful links

Case law - Court of Appeal (UK), Young v Bristol Aeroplane Company Limited, 1944

Online publications - Bintliff, Barbara, 2001, Mandatory v Persuasive Case Authority, USA, 9 Perspectives: Teaching Legal Research and Writing - Lee, James, 2011, The Doctrine of Precedent and the Supreme Court, UK, Inner Temple Academic Fellow’s Lecture - Justice Kirby, Michael, 2006, Precedent – Report on Australia, The Netherlands, International Academy of Comparative Law Conference, Utrecht - About Judicial Precedent - Appendix III: Autonomy of Scottish law within the appellate jurisdiction of the House of Lords/Supreme Court


Landes, William and Posner, Richard, 1976, Legal Precedent: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis, 19 Journal of Law and Economics 

Duxbury, Neil, 2008, The Nature and Authority of Precedent, Cambridge UP

Martin, Jacqueline, 2005, The English Legal System (4th ed), Routledge

Practice Statement HL Judicial Precedent [1966] 1 WLR 1234


By Sabina Aionesei