December 23, 2020
December 23, 2020

Sorry, I don’t speak Legalese: Precedent

What Does Precedent Mean? 

Precedent is when a previous court decision is considered to be a ‘rule’ for deciding or influencing subsequent cases involving similar issues or facts.

After a precedent is set, the courts are bound to apply the law to all future cases which follow the same pattern of facts.

Types of Precedent 

There are three types of precedent: 

1. Original 

An original precedent is often created when a court hears a case that involves law or facts that have never been tried and/or ruled upon before. The court will take previous cases that it deems relevant into consideration when reaching a new decision. 

2. Binding 

Binding precedents are formed from important past cases that ‘bind’ future judges to follow, even if they disagree. 

This only applies when the facts of an original case are similar enough to those that appear in the new cases as well as when the original decision was made by a court that is higher than the court currently deciding upon the issue.

A binding precedent can be overturned by a higher court. Reasons for this can include, but are not limited to, changes in law and/or societal norms. 

3. Persuasive

Persuasive precedents are previous decisions that are not binding but may influence a judge’s decision. Examples of these are the decisions of the lower courts or the courts of other jurisdictions. 


There are many benefits to following a precedent, some of which include:

– An increase in certainty for parties who encounter issues previously ruled upon;

– Helping solicitors and their clients build stronger legal arguments as they can rely on principles that have been established through precedent; and

– Helping to avoid the court’s time being wasted by ruling multiple times on the same issue. 

Examples at our firm

Our firm frequently uses precedent in pleading each of its cases. Persuasive judgments from other jurisdictions that have been made against Mercedes-Benz, for example, may be considered within the domestic litigation being brought on behalf of over 80,000 victims. You can join this litigation by visiting 

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