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Ratio Descidendi

  • Established in Common Law
  • The reason or reasoning behind a judicial decision
  • This decision binds all courts lower than, as well as on the same level of the court making the decision
  • It is binding and thus somewhat certain but it is also flexible in that judges can distinguish between legal cases and higher courts can overturn lower court decisions.
  • This is in contrast to obiter dicta which is a judges musings on route to reaching a decision.  Such musings can be persuasive, particularly in lower courts.
  • E.g. See the amusing reasoning given in the famous letting legal case of Street v Mountford.
Published: 29 September 2015 Last Updated: 30 November 2021