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What is the doctrine of judicial precedent?


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April 01, 2008 6:24AM

The doctrine of judicial precedent is at the heart of the Common Law system of rights and duties. The courts are bound (within prescribed limits) by prior decisions of superior courts. Adherence to precedent helps achieve two objects of the legal order. Firstly it contributes to the maintenance of a regime of stable laws. This stability gives predictability to the law and affords a degree of security for individual rights. Secondly it ensures that the law develops only in accordance with the changing perceptions of the community and therefore more accurately reflects the morals and expectations of the community.