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Judicial Precedent

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Introduction

Caitlin Moran - Law Exam Paper - January 2006 Exercise on judicial precedent (A) Distinguishing is a method that is sometimes used by a judge to avoid having to follow a past decision. The judge can use this method when they can prove that the material facts from the previous case are sufficiently different from the present case. If this is successful, then the judge is no longer bound by the previous case. An example of distinguishing being used is in Balfour v Balfour (1919) and Merritt v Merritt (1971). Both of these cases involved a wife making a claim against her husband for breach of contract.The claim was unsuccessful in the Balfour case as it was decided that there was no intention to create ...read more.

Middle

This is what distinguished the two cases as the agreement in Merritt was ruled not to just be a domestic arrangement, but a legally binding contract. (B) (i) Both of the cases would have had the same outcome because the practice statement did not come into action until 1966 and so the precedent from the previous case would have to be followed. So therefore the British Railways Board would have been found not guilty. (ii) The outcome for Addie v Dumbreck would still be the same, however, since the practice statement had come into action 1 year before 1967, the case of Herrington v British Railways Board could be distinguished from the previous and so the British Railway Board would be found guilty. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Practice Statement was only used for certainty and justice in the law, they were in fact, very reluctant to use it. We can see this in the source 'In the general interest of certainty in the law we must be sure that there is some good reason before we act.' I know that the House Of Lords are reluctant to use the practice statement because of the need for consistency and precictability in the law and because they do not want more criminals making appeals in the hope that the House Of Lords will change laws in their favour. Other courts however, still were bound by the precedent created by the House Of Lords. ...read more.

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