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With reference to any appropriate examples, consider to what extent judges are bound to follow previous precedent.

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Introduction

B) With reference to any appropriate examples, consider to what extent judges are bound to follow previous precedent (20) The lower courts are bound by the House of Lords so they have to apply their rules as if they were applying a statute. It was decided after the case 'London street tramways v London county council (1898)' that the House of Lords would be bound by its own previous decisions. This was a case during the nineteenth century, during the Victorian times when it was important to be consistent and certain. However during the twentieth century both society and the law developed and some decisions made in previous cases were now unsuitable, so the House of Lords made a Practice Statement in 1966. As a result of the Practice Statement 1966 the House of Lords does not always need to follow its own past decisions and can depart from a previous decision when it appears right to do so. ...read more.

Middle

because the House of Lords thought the 'Congreve' case was wrong and would produce startling and unacceptable consequences if it was followed. 'Pepper v Hart (1993)' overruled 'Beswick v Beswick (1968)' on the use of Hansard as an extrinsic aid to statutory interpretation. The Court of Appeal is usually bound by its own previous decisions and always bound by those of the House of Lords. However there are some exceptions to this rule shown in 'Young v Bristol Aeroplane Co (1944)'. Where there were conflicting decisions in past cases then the court of appeal can choose which one to follow or reject. If a House of Lords decision overrules a court of appeal decision then they must follow the House of Lords decision. Where a Court of appeal decision was made per incurium then the decision made in error can be overruled. ...read more.

Conclusion

the judge held that there were sufficient differences from an earlier case of 'Balfour v Balfour (1919)' so he did not have to follow that decision. Overruling in judicial precedent is where a court states that a precedent is wrong and creates a different legal rule in its place. The earlier precedent is said to be overruled. Reversing is when a higher court overturns the decision of a lower court on appeal. In 'Re Pinochet (1999)' the House of Lords reversed a previous decision for the first time. In conclusion, the House of Lords is bound by its previous decisions. However as a result of the Practice Statement in 1966, the House of Lords has some flexibility and can depart from a previous decision when it appears right to do so. The Court of Appeal is generally bound by its own decisions but there are some exceptions as shown in 'Young v Bristol Aeroplane Co (1944)'. The lower courts do not have that much power as they can only avoid following precedent by distinguishing, overruling and reversing. ...read more.

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