Advantages & Disadvantages of Precedent

Notes on the advantages and disadvantages of precedent

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Advantages of Precedent

Advantages of Precedent

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Advantages of Precedent

Consistency

  • Similar cases have similar sentences, which is fair on the defendant

Predictability

  • Lawyers can advise their clients accurately

Flexibility

  • Judges can develop law to fill in the gaps

Original Precedent

  • Judges can create law where there was none before
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Disadvantages of Precedent

Disadvantages of Precedent

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Disadvantages of Precedent

Compexity

It can be difficult to find the ratio decidendi in a judgment

Volume

There are 500,000 pages of law reports to look through for judgments

Uncertainty

Avoiding precedent makes it uncertain how cases will turn out

Rigidity

An unjust precedent can cause further unjustice until it is overruled

Undemocratic

Only those elected should make law, ie Parliament

Unconstitutional 

Judges oveerstep their roles by making law instead of just applying it

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