Precedent

Earlier legal rulings. One of the basic principles of law is stare decisis (that which has been decided stands). Once a principle has been determined in a case, all other cases must follow the same principle. In fact such decisions can change, but rarely and with due consideration. In fact such decisions can be changed, either by being overruled by a higher court or by a change in the relevant statute. Precedent tends to be given more weight in common law countries, eg UK, US, Australia, New Zealand, than in civil law countries, eg most European countries (A well known UK example is Brown v. Board of Education (1954) which overruled Plessy v. Furgesson (1896)).

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