An analysis of the precedent doctrine in australian courts

In Imbree v McNeilly [] HCA 40the High Court had to decide a case arising because a learner driver had a car accident and thereby injured one of his passengers.

binding precedent

This body of rules is known as the doctrine of precedent and some are mentioned below: A court, when it makes a decision, will usually give a reason or reasons for its decision, which will be based on the particular facts of the case.

The general idea behind the doctrine of precedent is that judges, when they are deciding cases, must pay proper respect to past judicial decisions.

An analysis of the precedent doctrine in australian courts

Judges are usually bound to decide a particular question in the same way that earlier cases with similar facts have been decided i. Earlier cases with similar but not identical facts can be distinguished i. For example, the highest court in Australia, the High Court, while not bound to follow its own earlier decisions, does so in most cases. The judge listens to the evidence, decides what evidence is relevant and what facts have been proved, decides what law is relevant, and applies that law to the facts in making a decision which is binding on the parties. The principle of a case is sometimes referred to as the ratio decidendi the reasoning for the decision. In Imbree v McNeilly [] HCA 40 , the High Court had to decide a case arising because a learner driver had a car accident and thereby injured one of his passengers. I think the context of the case you mention was important — namely that the court was making the comments in the context of interpretation of the Corporations Law which was intended to be uniform national legislation, and accordingly, that State courts should not depart from a decision of a parallel State Appellate Court on an analogous provision. The High Court is not bound to follow its own past decisions, but it ordinarily does so in cases raising similar facts. The decision of the highest court is final. This body of rules is known as the doctrine of precedent and some are mentioned below: A court, when it makes a decision, will usually give a reason or reasons for its decision, which will be based on the particular facts of the case. The law declared by the judge in the reasons for the court's decision directly affects the parties to the case. When a case comes before a court, the parties to the action present the evidence they need to support their case. Bookmark the permalink. What are the implications of the doctrine of precedent for state and territory courts of appeal? Particularly interesting or significant court judgments are reported case by case and collected into a variety of books known as law reports.

Further, I am not sure that is correct to say that Farah stands for the proposition that one Court of Appeal is bound to follow another. The decision of the highest court is final. If an appeal is not made within the time allowed, the matter is finalised and the case usually cannot be reopened.

doctrine of precedent ratio decidendi

Thus, there were reasons to think that in Imbree v McNeilly, the High Court would follow Cook v Cook and rule that the driver in Imbree v McNeilly owed a qualified standard of care to his injured passenger. When an earlier decision is not followed it is said to be distinguished from the earlier case.

That seems to me to make sense — if we have legislation which is intended to apply uniformly across States, courts should be guided by the way in which other States have interpreted it and should only depart from that interpretation if it is plainly wrong.

How does the doctrine of precedent operate in australia

You wonder how a court can judge whether something a judge said was seriously considered or not. If, for example, a matter before an Australian court is unusual or difficult, judges and lawyers might look to overseas decisions for guidance or comparison. However, the Court decided not to follow Cook v Cook, and instead overruled that earlier decision. Bookmark the permalink. Judges deciding cases refer to the common law to guide them in making decisions about the particular case they are dealing with. Immediately below the High Court are the courts of appeal of the various states and territories, and below these are the supreme courts of the various states and territories. This adds to the body of law known as common law. Not all cases heard by courts in Australia will be reported—decisions of minor courts like the Magistrates Courts in Queensland are not recorded in law reports. It involved a contested area of equity where different State Courts had come to different decisions on the question, so there were already multiple views on the law.

Some of the rules that make up the doctrine of precedent are: a judge follows the law declared by judges in higher courts in the same jurisdiction in cases with similar facts a court must give reasons for its decision in a case.

The courts are arranged in a hierarchy, based on the kinds of issues being decided, with appeals from lower courts going to a higher court.

doctrine of precedent australia pdf

What are the implications of the doctrine of precedent for state and territory courts of appeal? That said, I am not sure that it is quite right to say that, in a pre Farah world, one Court of Appeal was not bound to follow another.

Examples of precedent in australia

A party to a case who is not satisfied with the court's decision may appeal to a higher court for a reconsideration of the decision. Earlier cases with similar but not identical facts can be distinguished i. At the top of this hierarchy is the High Court. The kind of case that a particular court decides depends on the jurisdiction of that court, in other words its authority to determine particular issues. Conclusion The doctrine of precedent depends for its effectiveness on judges not only maintaining a general practice of paying respect to past judicial decisions, but also conscientiously and carefully articulating the content of the practice, and ensuring that the practice is consistent with, while not overreaching, its moral foundations in the rule of law. If, for example, a matter before an Australian court is unusual or difficult, judges and lawyers might look to overseas decisions for guidance or comparison. The highest appeal court in Australia is the High Court of Australia. Thus, there were reasons to think that in Imbree v McNeilly, the High Court would follow Cook v Cook and rule that the driver in Imbree v McNeilly owed a qualified standard of care to his injured passenger. It involved a contested area of equity where different State Courts had come to different decisions on the question, so there were already multiple views on the law. Whenever courts have to consider cases involving either the interpretation of laws made by parliaments or cases where no laws exist, the effect is that by making a decision and providing reasons for that decision , those courts are creating new laws.

Australian courts are arranged according to a hierarchy. The kind of case that a particular court decides depends on the jurisdiction of that court, in other words its authority to determine particular issues.

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The High Court and the Doctrine of Precedent