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What is the doctrine of precedent

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  • Essay length: 756 words
  • Submitted: 11/07/2002
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University Degree English Legal System

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What is the doctrine of precedent?

The doctrine of precedent is a form of reasoning and decision-making formed by case law. If a higher court has made a significant legal point in one case, it would be considered as binding in later courts. In order to understand this doctrine more clearly, it would be necessary to examine the hierarchy of the English Courts. The House of Lords holds the highest position, any decision made by them, would be binding to lower courts which filter down to the Court of Appeal, to the Crown Courts and County Courts. This is otherwise recognised as the doctrine of stare decisis, which means standing by what has been decided. This doctrine is a fundamental principle of English Law.

The use of precedent is vital to the decision making process of the courts. In approaching a case, if the material facts coincide with those of a past case made in a higher court, a decision would be likely to be made upon the decision in that case. The precedent can either be binding or persuasive.

A binding precedent would be established by a legal rule formed in a position of the

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