Judicial Precedents

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JUDICIAL PRECEDENT
Reading a House of Lords Statement; reading works of legal reference A. Before you read
1. Answer the following questions.
1. What do you understand by the doctrine of judicial precedent? 2. Why is judicial precedent central to the English legal system? 3. What is a binding decision?
4. In the context of case-law, what is an authority?
5. Discuss your answers with other members of the class.

2. In 1966 the House of Lords made a statement in which they changed the rules of precedent. Before you read the statement, think of one or two advantages of the system of binding precedent. Can you think of any disadvantages? Copy and complete the table in your notebooks.

|Binding precedent |
|Advantages |Disadvantages |
| | |

Discuss and compare your tables in small groups.

B. Reading a House of Lords statement
1. Skimming and scanning activities
i) Quickly skim the statement below to find the section of the text which: Example: describes the advantages of precedent Answer: lines 7-10 a. describes the disadvantages of precedent
b. explains in note form what the statement is about
c. gives the new rule of precedent.
ii) Quickly scan the statement to find out:
a) who read it b) on what date
c) If the statement was made by the House of Lords acting as a judicial or as a legislative body d) the name of the work of legal reference which describes the binding effect of House of Lords decisions. NOTE

|1 |Judgment - Judicial decision as authority -Stare decisis - House of Lords - Freedom of House of Lords to depart from their previous | | |decisions where right to do so - Doctrine of precedent nevertheless an indispensable foundation of decisions of law. | | |Before judgments were given in the House of Lords on July 26, 1966, Lord Gardiner, L.C., made the following statement on behalf of | | |himself and the Lords of Appeal in Ordinary: | |5 |Their lordships regard the use of precedent (1) as an indispensable foundation upon which to decide what is the law and its | | |application to individual cases. It provides at least some degree of certainty upon which individuals can rely in the conduct of | | |their affairs, as well as a basis for orderly development of legal rules. | | |Their lordships nevertheless recognise that too rigid adherence to precedent may lead to injustice in a particular case and also | | |unduly restrict the proper development of the law. They propose therefore to modify their present practice and, while treating | |10 |former decisions of this House as normally binding, to depart from a previous decision when it appears right to do so. | | |In this connexion they will bear in mind the danger of disturbing retrospectively the basis on which contracts, settlements of | | |property and fiscal arrangements have been entered into and also the especial need for certainty as to the criminal law. | | |This announcement is not intended to affect the use of precedent elsewhere than in this House. | | |(1) As regards the binding effect of decisions of the House of Lords, see 22 Halsbury's Laws (3rd Edn.) 798, 799, para. 1686; and | |15 |for cases on the subject see 30 Digest (Repl.) 219-221,624-646. | | | | | |...
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