In the common law tradition, courts decide the law applicable to a case by interpreting laws and applying precedents that record how and why previous cases were decided. Unlike most civil law systems, common law systems follow the doctrine of stare decisis, to which most courts in similar cases are bound by their own previous decisions and all lower courts should make decisions that are consistent with previous decisions of higher courts. [6] In England, for example, the High Court and the Court of Appeal are each bound by their own previous decisions, but the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom may depart from its previous decisions, although it rarely does so in practice. The most obvious disadvantage of stare decisis is the risk, which is sometimes confirmed, that ill-justified precedents may be part of the legal structure. However, there is a cure when this happens. The doctrine of stare decisis does not completely isolate precedents from examination. Congressional legislative action can overturn judicial decisions on legal matters, and constitutional amendments can overturn judicial decisions on constitutional issues. However, corrective measures are often not necessary, as the judiciary can overturn its own decisions if certain conditions are met. In the following, Part II examines how precedents may lose their binding effect through judicial action and examines the principles that guide the supreme court`s remedies. The U.S. Supreme Court has final authority over matters relating to the importance of federal law, including the U.S.

Constitution. For example, if the Supreme Court says that the First Amendment applies in some way to defamation lawsuits, then each court is bound by that precedent in its interpretation of the First Amendment as it applies to defamation lawsuits. If a lower court judge disagrees with a precedent in a higher court, which the First Amendment should mean, the lower court judge must decide based on binding jurisprudence. Until the higher court modifies the judgment (or the law itself is amended), the binding precedent is decisive for the meaning of the law. A precedent does not bind a court if it concludes that there was a lack of care in the original “Per Incuriam”. For example, if a legal provision or precedent had not been brought to the attention of the previous court prior to its decision, the precedent would not be binding. In general, the higher courts do not have direct control over the day-to-day affairs of the lower courts, as they cannot at any time appeal or overturn the decisions of the lower courts on their own initiative (sua sponte). Normally, it is the responsibility of litigants to challenge decisions (including those that clearly violate established jurisprudence) in higher courts. If a judge acts against precedents and the case is not challenged, the decision remains in effect. Convinced of the mistakes of the past, this Court has never felt compelled to follow precedents. In constitutional matters where correction depends on an amendment and not on legislation, this Court has, throughout its history, freely exercised its power to review the basis of its constitutional decisions. Irrespective of the rules of case-law, the weight actually attached to a reported opinion may depend on the reputation of the Court and the judges in relation to the specific issue.

For example, in the United States, the Second Circuit (New York and surrounding states) is particularly respected in commercial and securities law, the Seventh Circuit (in Chicago), especially Judge Posner, is highly regarded in antitrust law, and the District of Columbia Circuit is highly regarded in administrative law. A precedent links a particular legal consequence to a detailed set of facts in a decided case or court decision, which is then considered the rule for ruling on a subsequent case that contains the same or similar essential facts and that appears before the same or a lower court in the judicial hierarchy. [25] Stare decisis reduces the number and scope of legal issues that the court must resolve in a dispute. It is therefore a time saver for judges and litigants. Once a court clarified a particular legal issue, it set a precedent. Thanks to stare decisis, claims can be dismissed quickly and efficiently, as disputes can be resolved using rules and principles that have been previously adopted. Stare decisis can thus encourage the parties to settle cases amicably, thus increasing the efficiency of the judiciary. [30] Disputes settled amicably do not result in a written decision and therefore have no precedent. In practice, the U.S. Department of Justice settles many cases against the federal government simply to avoid adverse precedents. The House of Lords, as the last court of appeal outside Scotland before being replaced by the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, was not strictly bound to follow its own decisions until London Street Tramways v London County Council [1898] AC 375. After this case, after the Lords had made a decision on a point of law, the matter was closed unless Parliament made a change to the law.

This is the strictest form of the doctrine of stare decisis (which was not previously applied in common law jurisdictions, where there was a little more flexibility for a court of last resort to review its own precedent). Law professors in common law traditions play a much less important role in the development of jurisprudence than professors in civil law traditions. Since court decisions in civil law traditions are short and do not lend themselves to setting precedents, much of the presentation of law in civil law traditions is done by academics rather than judges; This is called doctrine and can be published in articles or journals such as the Recueil Dalloz en France. .