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Judicial decision making
Judicial decision making

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7.1 The Incorporated Council of Law Reporting

Stare decisis became particularly important after 1865 when the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting (ICLR) was established. Law reporting is the publishing of judicial decisions so that the public can know the law and how cases have been decided. Before 1865, law reporting was a bit haphazard. Without a reliable law report, it was more difficult to be sure what previous courts had decided. A court that did not want to follow a particular precedent could cast doubt on whether the law report was accurate. For example, Lord Lyndhurst was reported to have said of the unfortunate law reporter Mr Barnardiston who wrote reports published between 1726 and 1735: ‘I fear that is a book of no great authority; I recollect, in my younger days, it was said of Barnardiston, that he was accustomed to slumber over his note-book, and the wags in the rear took the opportunity of scribbling nonsense in it’ (William, 1882, p. 424).

The establishment of the ICLR effectively put an end to judges querying law reports. After that time, the draft ICLR reports would be returned to the judges to check that the report was accurate. It would also include the arguments of the parties so that the context of the dispute was clear.