Judicial Precedent

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Judicial Precedent
Precedent; A source of law where judges past decisions create law for future judges to follow.
House of Lords & The Practise Statement.
Set up in 1966.
The House of Lords was not keen to use.
Gave the law more flexibility.
Can be used when "appears right to do so". This is very vague.
Needed due to changes in society's view.
Can allow the House of Lords to avoid absurd decisions.
The House of Lords still believe that strength of the law is more important than individuals.
By following decisions the law is certain.
First used in 19, 68, in the case Conway v Rimmer. This was over a technical point of law, &
involved discovering documents.
It was first used as intended in 19, 72, in the case Herrington v British Railway Broad.
Originally in 19, 29, the case Addie v Dumbeck, involving Child trespassing. There was no
duty of care towards these children. However in 19, 72, there had been a change in social 7
physical conditions, meaning the House of Lords used the Practise statement to rule that land
owners now have a duty of care.
Court of Appeal & It's Decisions
They can sort previous decisions.
Change decisions made in error.
And choose an appropriate decision if there has been a past conflict about the decision.
Criminal & civil decisions do not bind each other.
Involving 2 similar cases where the detail is different.
There is a holding or legal reasoning for earlier case, that is now limited or can't be applied.
This allows the court not to be bound & is a tool for avoiding decision which they don't agree
It depends if distinguished facts are materials of matter.
Distinguishing helps to keep judicial precedent.
It also allows a more flexible law.
An example would be in 19, 19, in the case Balfour v Balfour. A Wife claimed against
husband, saying that he breached a contract. However she failed, as there was no legally
binding contract & she had no intention to create legal regulation.
It was later in 19, 71, in the case Merrit v Merrit that the cases were similar yet the detail
was slightly different. The couple had separated before the agreement was made,
distinguishing the case.
Overruling decides that the previous decision was wrong.
This allows the law to become flexible.
A Higher court may overturn a lower court's decision.
The European Court of Justice can overrule any court.

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And the House of Lords uses the practise statement to overrule.
For example in 19, 93, Pepper v Hart. 7 judges were used (compared to the normal 5) in
deciding if Hansard should be allowed use. Lord Chancellor was the only judge against it &
the court overruled by saying Hansard was allowed use.
A Court's higher in hierarchy overturns lower court's decision.
This is over a different view of law.
The Court of Appeal may reverse the High Court's decision.…read more


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