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B.K. Prakash Appellant Vs. State of Karnataka Respondent 2004 SCCL.COM 190

Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. Appellant Vs. Chembur Service Station

Respondent 2011 SCCL.COM 185

Union of India Petitioner Vs. V. Sriharan @ Murugan & others Respondents 2014

Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] S.C.(H.L.) 31

Rylands v Fletcher (1868) LR 3 HL 330

Entick v Carrington [1765] 19 Howell's State Trials 1030

Katzenbach v. Morgan, 384 U.S. 641 (1966)

City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507 (1997)

Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. (2013)


SCC : Supreme Court Cases

AIR : All India Reporter

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Case law in common law systems

In the common law tradition, courts decide the law applicable to a case by
interpreting statutes and applying precedent which record how and why
prior cases have been decided. Unlike most civil law systems, common
law systems follow the doctrine of stare decisis, by which most courts are
bound by their own previous decisions in similar cases, and all lower
courts should make decisions consistent with previous decisions of higher
courts.For example, in England, the High Court and the Court of
Appeal are each bound by their own previous decisions, but the Supreme
Court of the United Kingdom is able to deviate from its earlier decisions,
although in practice it rarely does so.
Generally speaking, higher courts do not have direct oversight over lower courts, in that they
cannot reach out on their own initiative (sua sponte) at any time to reverse or overrule
judgments of the lower courts. Normally, the burden rests with litigants to appeal rulings
(including those in clear violation of established case law) to the higher courts. If a judge acts
against precedent and the case is not appealed, the decision will stand.
A lower court may not rule against a binding precedent, even if the lower court feels that the
precedent is unjust; the lower court may only express the hope that a higher court or the
legislature will reform the rule in question. If the court believes that developments or trends
in legal reasoning render the precedent unhelpful, and wishes to evade it and help the law
evolve, the court may either hold that the precedent is inconsistent with subsequent authority,
or that the precedent should be distinguished by some material difference between the facts of
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the cases. If that judgment goes to appeal, the appellate court will have the opportunity to
review both the precedent and the case under appeal, perhaps overruling the previous case
law by setting a new precedent of higher authority. This may happen several times as the case
works its way through successive appeals. Lord Denning, first of the High Court of Justice,
later of the Court of Appeal, provided a famous example of this evolutionary process in his
development of the concept of estoppelstarting in the High Trees case: Central London
Property Trust Ltd v. High Trees House Ltd [1947] K.B. 130.
Judges may refer to various types of persuasive authority to reach a decision in a case.
Widely cited non-binding sources include legal encyclopedias such as Corpus Juris
Secundum and Halsbury's Laws of England, or the published work of the Law
Commission or the American Law Institute. Some bodies are given statutory powers to issue
Guidance with persuasive authority or similar statutory effect, such as the Highway Code.
In federal or multi-jurisdictional law systems there may exist conflicts between the various
lower appellate courts. Sometimes these differences may not be resolved and it may be
necessary to distinguish how the law is applied in one district, province, division or appellate
department. Usually only an appeal accepted by the court of last resort will resolve such
differences and, for many reasons, such appeals are often not granted.
Any court may seek to distinguish its present case from that of a binding precedent, in order
to reach a different conclusion. The validity of such a distinction may or may not be accepted
on appeal. An appellate court may also propound an entirely new and different analysis from
that of junior courts, and may or may not be bound by its own previous decisions, or in any
case may distinguish the decisions based on significant differences in the facts applicable to
each case. Or, a court may view the matter before it as one of "first impression," not governed
by any controlling precedent.
Where there are several members of a court, there may be one or more judgments given; only
the ratio decidendi of the majority can constitute a binding precedent, but all may be cited as
persuasive, or their reasoning may be adopted in argument. Quite apart from the rules of
precedent, the weight actually given to any reported judgment may depend on the reputation
of both the court and the judges.

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Case law is the set of decisions of adjudicatory tribunals that can be cited as precedent. In
most countries, including most European countries, the term is applied to any set of rulings
on law which is guided by previous rulings, for example, previous decisions of a government
agency - that is, precedential case law can arise from either a judicial ruling or a ruling of an
adjudication within an executive branch agency. Trials and hearings that do not result in
written decisions of a court of record do not create precedent for future court decisions.
Case Law is a reported decisions of appellate courts and other courts which make new
interpretations of the law and, therefore, can be cited as precedents. These interpretations are
distinguished from "statutory law" which is the statutes and codes (laws) enacted by
legislative bodies, "regulatory law" which is regulations required by agencies based on
statutes, and in some states, the Common Law, which is the generally accepted law carried
down from England. The rulings in trials and hearings which are not appealed and not
reported are not case law and, therefore, not precedent or new interpretations. Law students
principally study case law to understand the application of law to facts and learn the courts'
subsequent interpretations of statutes.


The importance of case law in a common law jurisdiction
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Legislation as a concept is relatively easily understood across legal systems. However, due to
our Common Law heritage, case law has particular importance in the United States. Case law
in this sense means the written opinions of appellate courts deciding a point of law. When
judges have to make decisions on matters of law they must follow the decisions of their
predecessors and superiors. This principle of stare decisis is crucial to maintain the element of
predictability in juridical relations.
Case law analysis as the core of the "lawyering" process
Courts work to avoid contradicting themselves, and can never contradict a court which is
higher in that jurisdiction's hierarchy than the court itself. The written decisions indicate
which previous cases are being followed, and show why this case should follow the logic of
those particular cases. The earlier cases are called "precedent". When an attorney is
presenting his case to the appellate bench, he is basically arguing which cases and which
logic should be used in the situation in dispute. Finding these cases and developing the logic
is often the bulk of the research in a particular situation.
Trial decisions
It is important to remember that jury decisions and judicial decisions in regard to facts are not
part of this theory of case law. In many US jurisdictions trial court decisions are not
published, although there are some exceptions. It is also important to remember that a
decision is not a transcript of a trial.
Institutional role of case law
The judicial decisions can involve questions of interpretation based on the constitution and
legislation, or they can be more direct law making, establishing norms in areas where there is
no applicable legislation. There are broad areas in American law which are still relatively free
of legislation, especially in areas of private law obligations (contracts and torts), and personal
and real property. This law making power is also important in settling disputes in areas new
to the law, such as surrogate parenting, before the legislature has had a chance to enact a
statutory regime applicable to the situation.
The format of cases

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In each published case there is an opinion and possibly concurring or dissenting opinions.
The written reasons for the court's action is the opinion, and it is that which has precedental
value. Concurring opinions are written by judges who agree with the result of the decision,
but have different reasons for arriving at the result than those outlined in the majority
opinion. Dissenting opinions are written by judges who voted against the majority opinion
and who feel it is important to get their ideas on the record. Concurring and dissenting
opinions can be persuasive when used by an attorney in conjunction with other precedent of
similar logic.

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