Consider How the Doctrine of Binding Precedent Operates in the English Courts.

Topics: Stare decisis, Common law, Case law Pages: 3 (1091 words) Published: March 23, 2011
The doctrine of binding precedent, or stare decisis is the heart of the English Legal System. It refers to the fact that within the hierarchical structure of the English courts, a decision of a higher court will be binding on a lower court. The House of Lords or the Supreme Court stands at the peak of the English court structure and its decisions are binding on all lower courts. And it should always have to bear in mind, that, as the UK is a member of the EC, and as the ECJ is the highest court, it is not bound by any higher court, the decisions of the ECJ is binding on the House of Lords and all the lower courts. The ECJ is not bound to follow its own previous decision. Also as a consequence of the HRA 1998 the decision of the ECtHR are now part of the jurisprudence of the UK courts. This means that it is possible that the superior courts will find it necessary to alter previous precedents where they have been generated without reference to the ECHR. The House of Lords was not bound by its previous decisions before 1898. But from 1898 –1966 it regarded itself as bound by its own previous decisions. In 1966 Lord Gardiner indicated in the Practice Statement (Judicial Precedent) of that year that the HOL would in future regard itself as free to depart from its previous decisions where it appeared right to do so. The next court in the hierarchical structure is the Court of Appeal. It has two divisions. (i) Civil division and (ii) Criminal division. In a civil case, the situation is that, the Court of Appeal is generally bound by previous decisions of the House of Lords. Broome v Cassell and Miliangos v George Frank (Textiles) Ltd. The Court of Appeal is generally also bound by its own previous decisions. As explained, however, by Lord Greene MR in Young & Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd, there are a limited number of exceptions to this general rule. These exceptions arise where: (a)A previous decision of the Court of Appeal has been overruled (cancelled), either expressly...
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