In deciding a case, a judge must follow any decision that has been made by a higher court in a case with similar facts. Judges are bound only by the part of the judgement forming the legal principle that was the basis of the earlier decision, known as the ratio decidendi. The rest of the judgement is known as obiter dicta and is not binding.
The hierarchy of the courts
The European Court of Justice is the highest authority on European law, in other matters…