Methods of Avoiding Precedent

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  • Methods of avoiding Precedent
    • Reasons why
      • Once a precedent is set, it should be followed for as long as possible so that everyone is toasted the exact same way.
      • Judges may wish to change the law if it is outdated or the precedent has been made by mistake. There are various ways of avoiding precedent depending upon the court involved.
    • Practise Statement 1966
      • Applies only in the Supreme Court. The court can use the practise statement to change one of its own previous decisions when it appears right to do so,
        • E.g- R V R- to overrule a 17th Century precedent that a husband could not legally rape his wife.
    • Young V Bristol Aeroplane Co.
      • Applies only in the Court of Appeal. In this case the Court of Appeal held that it was bound by its own previous decisions unless;
        • 1- previous decisions made by mistake.
        • 2. Two conflicting decisions
        • 3. Decision in Court of Appeal has been overruled by Supreme Court.
    • Overrule
      • When precedent is created by a case at one point in time & is overruled by a different case at a late point in time.
      • The supreme court can overrule the decision of inferior courts.
    • Distinguish
      • If a judge argues that the facts of the case before him are different to the facts of the precedent then the cases are distinguished & the judge does not have to follow the precedent.
    • Disapproving
      • Judges may disapprove of a precedent which they are bound to apply in the hope that it will be recognised.


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