In most countries, including most European countries, the term is applied to any set of rulings on law which is guided by doctrine of stare decisis pdf rulings, for example, previous decisions of a government agency. Statutory interpretation in the U. In a legal context, this is understood to mean that courts should generally abide by precedent and not disturb settled matters.
The first is the rule that a decision made by a superior court, or by the same court in an earlier decision, is binding precedent that the court itself and all its inferior courts are obligated to follow. The second is the principle that a court should not overturn its own precedent unless there is a strong reason to do so and should be guided by principles from lateral and inferior courts. If that judgment goes to appeal, the appellate court will have the opportunity to review both the precedent and the case under appeal, perhaps overruling the previous case law by setting a new precedent of higher authority. This may happen several times as the case works its way through successive appeals. Central London Property Trust Ltd v.
Judges may refer to various types of persuasive authority to reach a decision in a case. In federal or multi-jurisdictional law systems there may exist conflicts between the various lower appellate courts. Any court may seek to distinguish its present case from that of a binding precedent, in order to reach a different conclusion. The validity of such a distinction may or may not be accepted on appeal.
An appellate court may also propound an entirely new and different analysis from that of junior courts, and may or may not be bound by its own previous decisions, or in any case may distinguish the decisions based on significant differences in the facts applicable to each case. Quite apart from the rules of precedent, the weight actually given to any reported judgment may depend on the reputation of both the court and the judges. The inferior courts conduct almost all trial proceedings. The inferior courts are bound to obey precedent established by the appellate court for their jurisdiction, and all supreme court precedent.
The decisions of this court are binding upon and must be followed by all the state courts of California. Courts exercising inferior jurisdiction must accept the law declared by courts of superior jurisdiction. It is not their function to attempt to overrule decisions of a higher court. An Intermediate state appellate court is generally bound to follow the decisions of the highest court of that state. District of Columbia alone up to seven states.
Decisions of one appellate department are not binding upon another, and in some cases the departments differ considerably on interpretations of law. In federal systems the division between federal and state law may result in complex interactions. In the United States, state courts are not considered inferior to federal courts but rather constitute a parallel court system. However some states have adopted a practice of considering themselves bound by rulings of the court of appeals embracing their states, as a matter of comity rather than constitutional obligation. In state and federal courts in the United States of America, jurisdiction is often divided geographically among local trial courts, several of which fall under the territory of a regional appeals court.
By definition, decisions of lower courts are not binding on courts higher in the system, nor are appeals court decisions binding on local courts that fall under a different appeals court. It ensures certainty and consistency in the application of law. Existing binding precedent from past cases are applied in principle to new situations by analogy. Given a determination as to the governing jurisdiction, a court is “bound” to follow a precedent of that jurisdiction only if it is directly in point. At the top of the federal or national system is the Supreme Court, and underneath are lower federal courts.