Judges and the law
Judges and the law

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Judges and the law

3.5 Summary of Part B

In Part B you have learned that:

  • the system of precedent requires later courts to use the same reasoning as an earlier court, where two cases raise the same legal issues;

  • the contents of a case report can be divided into two categories:

    • ratio decidendi – the statement of legal principles essential to the decision. The ratio is the binding element of the case

    • obiter dictum – any statement of law that is not an essential part of the judgment. The obiter is never binding, but can be persuasive authority which can be taken into consideration in later cases;

  • the main ways in which judges can alter or avoid precedents are:

    • overruling – where the court sets aside a legal ruling established in a previous case

    • distinguishing – if the court regards the facts of the current case as materially different from previous decisions, then the court will not apply the precedent, as it will not be relevant to the current case.

W100_3

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus