Ratio Decidendi : The Fundamental Issue

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Ratio decidendi precisely is a word based from Latin, can be defined as a ruling on a point of law as a justification on which the court pursues its decision. The ratio decidendi basically can be understood as a reasoning provided by the court for reaching its verdict after considering the facts of the case and its function is to be a rule of law that deduced from the facts. According to Rupert Cross, the academic scholar, ratio decidendi is known as ‘any rule of law expressly or impliedly treated by the judge as a necessary step in reaching his conclusion, having regard to the line of reasoning adopted by him, or a necessary part of his direction to the jury’. Generally, the concept of ratio decidendi is a legal tool that has been…show more content…
One of the formula in ascertaining ratio decidendi is by finding the material facts from a case. This approach was well-explained and indeed, founded by Professor Goodhart in his seminal article in 1930. According to Goodhart, a ratio decidendi should be extracted by the judge after valuing the materiality of facts of the case and his decision which is the actual ruling of the court is upon them. In the way of finding the ratio, Professor Goodhart established a process which known as abstraction.

Abstraction is a process of extracting certain qualities and relations from the facts of the case. On the other meaning, this process portrays the narrow facts at the lowest level of abstraction to the wider facts at the highest level of abstraction without ignoring the similarities between the facts at all levels of the process. For the simplest example, imagine the famous movie character of Garfield which can be considered as the narrow fact at the lowest level of abstraction, is a pet; at the next level he is a cat; at the higher level he is a mammal and then he is an animal and the highest level of abstraction, he is generally a living thing. A living thing is the widest fact that can be extracted from the process of abstraction.

Now, let us explore the more serious situation in Wilkinson v Downton. A quick background of this case; the defendant,
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