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This essay outlines the way in which courts use the system of precedent in deciding cases Different methods of law-making will be identified and the authority of judges to make laws will be described It will state the operation of doctrine of precedent including binding and persuasive precedent as well as ratio decidendi and obiter dicta Explained also is the problems encountered with the doctrine of precedent and the methods available to overcome precedent Case law is made by the judges in the courts either when a new case is before them or when the judge interprets a statute The courts are limited in their power to make law however through the court hierarchy and the doctrine of precedent Judge-made laws are recorded decisions of judges that have been written down and collected over time There are two main areas of judge-made laws The first area is Common law which is judge-made law in areas where no legislation applies whilst the other area is Judicial Interpretation which is judge made law relating to the interpretation of the words used in legislation A precedent is the decision of a court that is used as an authority for reaching the same decision in a later case The rule that similar cases should be decided in a similar way isnt the center of our idea of justice If people are to be treated equally before the law then legal principles or past decisions must be followed and applied to later cases There are strict rules that guide judges in making and applying precedents Firstly if courts are to be consistent in the application of precedents judges must know what earlier decisions are precedents In other words these decisions need to be recorded Only major cases are ever recorded Recorded cases which contain some new development are published in a permanent form known as law reports Law reports record the judgment in a case This is
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