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Law a judicial decision that serves as an authority for deciding a later case



in law, a decision delivered by a court in a specific case, the opinion for which becomes a rule that is binding on all courts of the same or lower instance in deciding analogous cases. Soviet law does not recognize precedent and does not permit the decision of criminal cases by analogy, holding that the judicial decision should be based on statutory law alone.

In some countries, including Great Britain, most of the states in the United States, Canada, and Australia, legal precedent is recognized as a source of law and lies at the foundation of the entire legal system. In accordance with the prevailing doctrine in these countries, the judge who creates a legal precedent does not create a legal norm but only formulates that which follows from the common principles of law inherent in human nature. In reality the judge may always reject the application of precedent, citing some insignificant features of the particular case in order to introduce an entirely new rule. The judge also has the freedom to interpret precedent and to select from an enormous number of precedents; in other words, there is an enormous potential for judicial discretion and arbitrary legal actions. In legal writing and in practice, systems of law based on precedent are often called systems of judge-made law.

In a number of bourgeois countries, including France, the Federal Republic of Germany, and Belgium, precedent is important for deciding questions of the application of law, filling gaps in the law, and recognizing custom and commercial practices. On the basis of precedent, existing legislation is supplemented, and statutory law is interpreted.

References in periodicals archive ?
As a result, in the absence of binding precedent, judges will be more likely to "follow" the reasoning of high-quality opinions and more likely to criticize or distinguish the reasoning of low-quality opinions.
The court will consider such dispositions for their persuasive value but not as binding precedent.
pdf) ("Although unpublished opinions may be cited as persuasive authority, they are not considered binding precedent.
gov) ("The court may refer to a nonprecedential disposition in an opinion or order and may look to a nonprecedential disposition for guidance or persuasive reasoning, but will not give one of its own nonprecedential dispositions the effect of binding precedent.
The principal dispute, then, is whether Congress may make a rule regulating the court's use of binding precedent.
Do the goals of impartiality, accountability, and non-arbitrariness demand that a court be allowed to treat a written determination as a binding precedent if it so wishes?
First, there is the obvious confusion in the language of the provision: we do not know if precedent for that purpose includes either category of non-binding precedent as well as binding precedent.
Of the eight circuits that allow citation of unpublished opinions, none treat them as full-fledged, first-class, binding precedents.
If citable unpublished opinions are not to be binding precedents, some way must be found to free them from the law-of-the-circuit rule, which says a panel opinion is binding on all subsequent panels.
issues in bankruptcy law and created binding precedent.
worthy of review by a court that can create binding precedent.