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    Precedents and Statutory Interpretation for Solving Legal Problems

    University: Bloomsbury institute london

    • Unit No: 5
    • Level: Undergraduate/College
    • Pages: 12 / Words 2951
    • Paper Type: Essay
    • Course Code: LAWS20058
    • Downloads: 403
    Question :
    Legal methods and systems are the set of rules  which is established by the institutions. These are the systematic procedures and the techniques which is laid by the particular discipline of legal method.  It also include intellectual techniques by employed  by lawers.
    Questions-This assessment will cover following questions:
    • Explain the concept of precedent.
    • Knowledge and understanding of legal research methods.
    • Determines the legal problem involves in the rules of civil and criminal law and identification of the court which would have jurisdiction to deal with the case.
    • Understanding the main source of English law and the concept of precedent and the principles of statutory interpretation.
    Answer :


    Legal system is referred to as an effective process which helps in enforcing rights and responsibilities in legal and ethical manner. Wales and England tends to operate a common legal system which is useful in enforcing the law within the country. The major legal system mainly consist of common law, civil law and religious law. Doctrine of precedent provides consistent decision making within the particular law and also helps in ensuring fairness. Ratio decidendi is referred to as the key facts of the case upon which no individual can debate. This study will highlight on precedents and statutory interpretation. This report will highlight on the English legal system, Doctrine of precedent, etc. This report also applies ratio decidendi on the legal problem and also focus on application of rules associated with the statutory interpretation in relation to provide solution for legal problem. It also helps in examining why the different rules of the court of appeal and supreme court is considered to be necessary.


    Doctrine of precedent

    Doctrine of precedent in accordance with English legal system helps in referring to the legal decision which has been made by the judges in the high court. The decision is made by the equal or lower court in the future. Cases which tends to have similar facts are likely to be bound with the past decisions. It is considered to be as the fundamental principle associated with the English law. It is considered to be as the form of decision making and reasoning in any case law. Any principle which has been announced by the high court are followed in the later cases. Judges are required to obey the precedents which has been established at the time of prior decision making. The legal principle is referred to as “Stare decsis” in accordance with the Latin name. Adherence to the precedents helps in achieving two key objects associated with the legal order which mainly comprise of maintaining a system of stable laws which in turn is considered to be very useful in complying with the degree of security associated with the individual rights. The second object is to ensure that, the law is developing in accordance with the changing perception of the society and community.

    Doctrine of precedent requires judges to effectively follow the determinations and rulings of the judges in the high court with the case involving similar issues and facts. Doctrine of precedent is important because it helps in specifying that, the court must effectively apply the rulings of the former case in the situation where the same facts relies. This is the decision of the judges which in turn becomes a law which must be followed by the future judge. It tends to provide certainty in the legal law. The major advantage is that, it provides consistent decision making within the particular law and also helps in ensuring fairness. There are two types of precedents related to doctrine of precedents which mainly constitute of persuasive precedents and binding precedents. The binding precedents tend to oblige the court to follow the decision of the judge. But on the contrary, persuasive precedent can inform or influence the decision but do not have the right to restrict or compel the decision on judges. The key advantage of the doctrine of precedent is that, it helps in providing predictability and certainty. It is very useful for the court to effectively save the time for future ruling. But on the other hand, doctrine of precedents might result in lack of flexibility. It helps judicial to prevent the occurrence of the mistakes. It also results in inability of common law in order to adapt to the socio- economic, changing moral and political realities which tends to result in static body of law. Another major disadvantage associated with the doctrine of precedents is that, it forces judges to look backwards instead of looking forwards in the future. (Bankowski, Zenon, Neil MacCormick, and Geoffrey Marshall)  examined that, the presence of the doctrine of precedents helps in making it easier for the judicial court to take decisions on the basis of previously decided law. This helps in providing fair treatment to the individuals in case related with the similar material facts. Different rules of court of appeal and supreme court is considered to be necessary because it helps in ensuring the justice and accuracy within the trial court. Individuals appealing to the trail court have the option to appeal to the federal or state supreme court in order to hear the case of an appeal. 

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    Application of ratio decidendi on the legal problem

    Ratio decidendi is considered to be as the Latin phrase which is mainly associated with “the reason for the key decision”. Ratio decidendi is referred to as the legal, social and political principle on which the decision of the court rests. It is useful in binding of lower courts with the principles associated with the “Stare decsis”. Ratio decidendi is referred to as the key facts of the case upon which no individual can debate. It tends to play a very crucial role in relation to the judicial precedent which tends to play as the underlying decision in a particular case of the law. The ratio tends to come towards the end of the case.

    Case of Donoghue vs Stevenson (1932)

    This case is about the platiff where Mrs. Donoghue have went to the cafe with a friend. The friend has brought her the drink of ginger beer. Mrs. Donoghue has pored some of the drink and has consumed it. Further, a ded snail was found in the bottle and it has been found that she has fell ill. She sued Mr. Stevenson the ginger beer manufacturer. Mrs. Donoghue fell ill after the consumption of noxious substance. It was a landmark court decision in English Tort law and Scotland delict law by the House of Lords (Legal skills and debates in Scotland, 2019). They laid down the foundation of negligence of the modern law by effectively establishing the general principles associated with the duty of care. This case law determines the tort of civil law for negligence in order to observe a duty of care towards customers. The result of the majority was 3:2 decision which was in favour of Donoghue. One ratio decidendi which has been taken from Donoghue vs Stevenson (1932) case is referred to as the “neighbour principle”. It is considered to be one of the key aspects in order to take decision. A legal reasoning has to be applied in this case.  Ratio decidendi is mainly referred to as the combination of the decision upon which all the assenting judges tend to agree upon. The House of Lords states that, the owner of the ginger beer manufacturer tends to own a duty of care towards Mrs. Donoghue which has been breached. There has been a negligence and failure to ensure the safety of the products. There is a proximate relationship between product manufacturer and consumer.  In accordance with the case, the decision has created new type of liability within the law which is not likely to be dependent on the previously recognized case associated with the tortious claims.  The ratio decidendi of the case states that, no selling of the opaque bottles of beverages which contains dead snail. Neighbour principle states that, the individual is highly responsible for taking responsible care in the omission or action in order to not cause harm to the proximate party. Neighbour principle was considered the part of the ratio for making judgement. Hence, Ratio decidendi tends to play a key role in evaluating the case from starting to the end in order to meet valid conclusive point. It has been examined that, manufacturer has duty of care towards its customers.

    Sources of English law

    English law symbolizes the law that has been developed for the common people residing in England and Wales. There are two major parts of the English law i.e. civil law and criminal law and these help in giving appropriate decisions. The sources of these laws are generally derived from the primary or secondary legislation. The case law rules or the ones that are derived form the precedent decisions, the decisions taken in the conventions etc. are some of the major sources of taking decisions and formulating law in the English session.

    European Union Law signifies the conglomeration of entire legal system that is applicable in the entire European Union and all its states that from the part of European Union. The European Law is said to be the supreme law in all the member states and cannot be challenged as per the treaties that have been formulated between the member countries. However, it can also be said that the court of Justice is different for the English law.

    European convention on human rights is another internation human right treaty that has been signed between the 47 state member that constitute the part of the European Council. This treaty tries to instil democratic rights and give more power to the individuals or common people of these member countries. When the state courts do not take right decisions, the convention has the right to issue ruling against them and this will be treated as the final rule.

    As per the English law, the Court of Appeal acts as in intermediary body between the state courts, county courts, high courts and the supreme court of a country. The precedence ruling states that if the Court finds the fact of a case similar to an earlier cane, then the ruling of that previous case can be taken as a basis of decision for the current or future cases. In case of supreme courts, the judges cannot violate the rule of precedence i.e. they cannot give out ruling which is in deviation or in contrast to the ruling given by them earlier. However, the judges of the Court of Appeal, have the right to contradict their ruling that was given earlier if they find that it will not address the nature of the problem currently. However, the decision of court of appeal must always stand with or comply the decision taken by the House of Lords.

    This creates different rules for the judges of supreme court in UK and the judges of Court of Appeal in UK, thus segregating the rights that they might otherwise enjoy.

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    Principle of statutory interpretation

    • Statutory Interpretation involves the process through which the judger of the courts interpret the law, statutes or the previous proceedings that have been developed so that this can be applied to the current case as well. This technique of statutory interpretation helps the judges in taking appropriate decisions and the intention of the parliament is carried out by this method of ruling. There are three major rules in the statutory interpretation technique and each rule has separate decision criteria and basis:
    • Rule of Literal Interpretation: This rule states that the the judge should interpret the natural and intended meaning of the law or statute and rather than glossing over it or trying to mould the intended meaning the rule or decision should be made according to the intended law or rule. The literal rule case can be better understood by the case of Fisher versus Bell. Under this case the defendant was charged because of the display of a flick knife with a price tag in the window and it was treated as a criminal offence under the law to display the weapons in such manner for sale.  The conviction regarding the current case was done on the basis of application of the literal rule and it was ruled that the display of such knives is not an offer but an invitation to treat.
    • The Mischief Rule: The mischief rule of statutory interpretation states that this rule shall only be applied in some cases where there is some ambiguity regarding the statute or law that can be used by the judge. This rule was basically established in the case of Heydon which was a very prominent and recognised case in the year 1584. Under Heydon's case, a charge or suit was filed against Heydon for violating the rights and intruding into certain private property in the Devon County and this made judges give a very special verdict which led to the formation of the Mischief Rule. It was ruled that why the application of common law was not sufficient for the mischief and defect and why the law and statute that has already been developed is not adequate for the ruling. This leads to development of a remedy that acts as an appropriate base for the solution of the present case problem.
    • Golden Rule of Interpretation: This rule is applicable in some really rare cases when the application of the literal rule is redundant and will lead to the creation of absurdity on the behalf f the ruling court if these literal rules are applied. This then leads to formation and development of  a secondary meaning and the judges make the ruling by interpreting the statute in a different context that is relevant to the law. The RV Allen case of 1872 can e taken as a reference for this case where the defendant was filed for the offence of bigamy. The statute stated that if an already married person marries another while the former partner is still alive shall be treated as an offence.  Therefore, the court developed a golden ruling where the word marry was detailed as the process of going through the entire marriage ceremony.

    Civil or criminal law

    A problem or case that comes to the court can either be criminal in nature or civil and for the different nature of these out cases, the ruling is different and the court proceedings are also different. These two has separate procedure of court proceedings and can be illustrated on the following basis:

    • Criminal Cases: The criminal cases are taken very intricately and seriously and these come t the court for hearing only after certain decision has been taken by the Crown Prosecution Service. Initially, the trial starts when the judge supervises the initial proceedings that take place and give decision accordingly. Circuit Judges sit with the Crown court cases where the case is first discussed and give appropriate rulings and decisions. This is then followed by the case being moved forward to the higher court where the case is reheard and decisions are given by the High Court Judges. Lastly, the Court of Appeal is the stage where the Criminal Division of the court takes the final decision on the case. The last resort is the supreme court and this is done when the defendant even challenges the decision of the court of appeal.
    • Civil Cases: These are cases that are not criminal in nature and covers a wide range of topics that are covered under the civil case ruling. The case is first heard by circuit judges and these are the ones that are dealing solely with the civil and domestic cases. The decision is the n challenged in the chancery division of the high court that again hears the case and then give appropriate ruling. This is then challenged, by the defendant, if necessary, in the court of appeal where it is again challenged and lastly the supreme court is again the last resort that can take the final decision on the concerned case.


    The research above helps in concluding that the rule of precedence and the statutory interpretation are two of the most important aspects in giving appropriate decision or ruling in the court s of UK. This report also identified the role of different sources through which the law in UK has been developed and what are the different civil or criminal case procedure that can be adopted in the courts. The report analyses every aspect and then gives appropriate conclusion and every relevant aspect is highlighted in this report.


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