The House Of Lords ' Outlook Regarding The Doctrine Of Precedent

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The House of Lords’ outlook concerning the doctrine of precedent is reflected in Lord Woolf’s statement in the case of R v Simpson [2003] . The excerpt brings up the practice of the courts, and how the rules of precedent ‘had to be applied bearing in mind that their objective was to assist in the administration of justice’, as well as precedential certainty and flexibility. The dicta used in his lengthy statement leaves space for discussion, such as; the precedent ‘assisting’ the administration of justice, the ‘appropriate degree’ of certainty that precedent carries. There is also room for examination as to just how far flexibility in precedent serves a positive purpose to meet contemporary needs.
The first point of discussion stems from the objective of precedent to assist in the administration of justice’. Being a key component of the common law legal system, precedent is based on stare decisis, which is Latin for ‘to stand by things decided’, and is the first rule of precedent . It refers to policy of the court to abide by rulings set by decisions made in previous cases. This involves the ratio decidendi, which is the basis of binding precedent because it stands as the reasoning behind a ruling. Without this, the doctrine of precedent would be unable to operate. Parts of the judgment that do not form the ratio are referred to as obiter dicta, and are merely persuasive precedent. The second rule of precedent is in relation to court hierarchy . An integral part of the

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