Ratio Decidendi and Obiter Dictum

1027 WordsFeb 9, 20135 Pages
RATIO DECIDENDI AND OBITER DICTUM The decision or judgement of a judge may fall into two parts: the ratio decidendi (reason for the decision) and obiter dictum (something said by the way). RATIO DECIDENDI - The ratio decidendi of a case is the principle of law on which a decision is based. When a judge delivers judgement in a case he outlines the facts which he finds have been proved on the evidence. Then he applies the law to those facts and arrives at a decision, for which he gives the reason (ratio decidendi). OBITER DICTUM - The judge may go on to speculate about what his decision would or might have been if the facts of the case had been different. This is an obiter dictum. The binding part of a judicial decision is the ratio…show more content…
CROWN COURTS Decisions made on points of law by judges sitting at the Crown Court are not binding, though they are of persuasive authority. Therefore, there is no obligation on other Crown Court judges to follow them. COUNTY COURTS AND MAGISTRATES' COURTS The decisions of these courts are not binding. They are rarely important in law and are not usually reported in the law reports. PERSUASIVE PRECEDENTS A persuasive precedent is one which is not absolutely binding on a court but which may be applied. The following are some examples: * Decisions of English courts lower in the hierarchy. For example, the House of Lords may follow a Court of Appeal decision, and the Court of appeal may follow a High Court decision, although not strictly bound to do so. * Decisions of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. * Decisions of the courts in Scotland, Ireland, the Commonwealth (especially Australia, Canada and New Zealand), and the USA. These are usually cited where there is a shortage or total lack of English authority on a point. * Obiter dicta of English judges. ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF PRECEDENT ADVANTAGES * There is certainty in the law. By looking at existing precedents it is possible to forecast what a decision will be and plan accordingly. * There is uniformity in the law. Similar cases will be treated in the same way. This is important to give the system a sense of justice and to make the system
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