2 The Courts and precedent
In giving their judgments judges use legal argument to support their conclusions. This legal argument is known as reasoning. The reasoning can lead to the establishing of a legal principle; given the Latin term ratio decidendi. This is often shortened to the words ‘ratio of the case’. Under the common law system these principles establish rules which, if all the facts are similar, must be followed in subsequent cases in the same or a lower court. This is known as the doctrine of precedent, which you are about to examine.