Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Financial, Idioms, Wikipedia.


Law a judicial decision that serves as an authority for deciding a later case
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
L'on apprend de la meme source qu'au cours du trimestre, ayant pris fin en juillet 2019, le cout des materiaux de construction des maisons a usage d'habitation observe une augmentation de 1,6% par rapport au trimestre precedent (ayant pris fin au mois d'avril 2019).
"We decline to do so because In re Civil Penalty does not empower us to overrule precedent in this way."
To find out the chronological distribution of the cited precedents
The framework has three steps: first, the forum court determines whether the officers reasonably relied upon locally binding precedent at the time of the search; second, if the officers did not, the forum court determines whether its own circuit has binding precedent that resolves the question; and third, if the circuit does not, the forum court independently determines the meaning of federal law.
Professor Kozel argues that precedent has value in conserving resources, acknowledging our limitations as individual decisionmakers, treating similar cases in a similar way, and furnishing common ground for justices who often disagree (pp.
A contract's condition precedent to initiating legal action is enforceable in Virginia.
The doctrine of stare decisis upholds prior precedent, regardless of the merits of the matter.
With Precedent Health, SpecialtyCare increases the number of associates available to support cases in existing markets across the United States while adding significant new coverage in other US markets.
Yet stare decisis cannot perform these functions if every justice follows a different approach to precedent. Kozel therefore advocates a "second-best" approach that would only allow for the consideration of traditionally relevant factors that can be applied independently of each justice's fundamental methodological and normative commitments in assessing whether to adhere to a mistaken decision.
The district judge had acted in accord with controlling Supreme Court precedent at the time.