• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The doctrine of precedent is based on the need for certainty in the law

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

The doctrine of precedent is based on the need for certainty in the law. It means that lawyers can properly advise their clients on the basis that like cases will be treated alike, rather than judges making their own random decisions which nobody could predict. This helps people plan their affairs. According to Lord Denning, 'It is the foundation of our system of case law'. However, Denning was 'against is its too rigid application - a rigidity which insists that a bad precedent must necessarily be followed'. It is the doctrine's rigidity that can prevent developments to meet the changing needs of society. However, this was recognised in the House of Lords 1996 Practice Statement. In addition, judges in the lower courts are adept at avoiding the doctrine's rigidity. A judge may distinguish the awkward precedent on its facts - arguing that the facts of the case under consideration are different in some important way from those of the previous case and therefore the rule does not apply. ...read more.

Middle

Using these techniques, the courts have developed the law to meet society's changing needs in many areas, for example the right to life, women's and human rights generally. A homicide defence based on necessity was not accepted in R v Dudley & Stephens (1884) or in R v Howe a 100 years later, though it was in R v A (Conjoined Twins) 2000. Here the issue was whether one Siamese twin should be allowed to die to save the other. The court decided that out of necessity it was acceptable to sacrifice one life to save the other, even though it contradicted existing authority. The courts have also considered how the right to die, or euthanasia, should be developed. In Bland v Airedale Area Health Authority, the House of Lords permitted 'passive' euthanasia, that is to say allowing life sustaining feeding tubes to be removed from the patient, knowing that death would result. ...read more.

Conclusion

Forty years later, this defence was no longer acceptable and the rule was changed in R v R. The impact of the Human Rights Act 1998 is as yet uncertain. But there is no doubt that case law will be developed according to society's changing needs, for example that our privacy should be respected. Before the Act, the courts followed Kaye v Robinson in denying the right to privacy. However, in the ground-breaking case of Douglas v Hello Ltd. Here, Sedley LJ said that there is 'a right of privacy which English law will today recognise and, where appropriate, protect'. That said, there is, as yet, no tort of privacy. Lastly, there are a number of 'morality cases' where the changing mores of society are recognised. For example, in Gillick v West Norfolk AHA, the issue was whether it was morally acceptable to prescribe contraceptives to under 16 year olds without parental consent. It was and this reflects how we live today ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Law section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

3 star(s)

Good essay addressing the key cases. The student should consider more contemporary themes in order to bring this essay up to date.

3 Stars,

Marked by teacher Edward Smith 23/07/2013

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Law essays

  1. There are four different types of law, criminal, civil, common and statuate. In this ...

    Results of individuals in the police service not having enough regulation could mean that for example they could use unruly force when trying to arrest someone for drunk and disorderly behaviour.

  2. The Importance of Law in Our Society

    For the full wrath of the legal system to be felt, and known, it must be used to its full advantage. Offenders should be made an example of; harsher punishment should be given, especially to repeat offenders. People should be able to have faith in their legal system otherwise it will eventually collapse.

  1. "The law is impartial and exists to protect the rights of individuals and society ...

    Money gives both social and political power, it could be suggested that law is a result of the wishes of powerful individuals and that the majority of the population have no say in it and are powerless to change it.

  2. "Discuss the meaning and constitutional significance of the rule of law. Illustrate your answer ...

    (Reference in bibliography) The rule of law lastly means that the general principles of the constitution are the result of judicial decision of the courts in England. In many countries right such as right to personal liberty, freedom from arrest, freedom to hold public meeting are guaranteed by a written constitution; in England, it is not so.

  1. The main sources of English law.

    R [1994] 4 All ER 48 decided in the House of Lords. The court re-interpreted the legislation so that a husband could be found guilty of raping his wife. 'Stare decisis' or binding precedent is at the heart of the English legal system and case law is particularly dependent on it.

  2. Offences against the person act 1861; criticisms and reforms.

    For assault and battery the maximum sentence is six months imprisonment, whereas section 47 is up to five years, the only difference being that in section 47 ABH is caused. Even though ABH can be as little as causing discomfort there is an increase of four and a half years on the maximum sentence.

  1. Study the concept of Reasonable man and reasonability in tort law.

    The question, "How would a reasonable person act under the circumstances" performs a critical role in legal reasoning in areas such as negligence and contract law." The above cited lines would be the most common explanation that would be provided for the term reasonable man by any legal dictionary worth its name.

  2. 869 Words Essay On Human Rights

    Then the two covenants go different ways. The drafters of the Covenants initially intended only one instrument. The original drafts included only political and civil rights, but economic and social rights | were added early. Western States then fought for, and obtained, a division into | two covenants.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work