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Legal System | Judicial Precedent

Judgment: Obiter Dictum

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  • propositions of law stated by a judge which is not crucial for his conclusion is referred to as obiter dicta (other things said)
  • obiter dicta is not binding
  • distinguishing between ratio decidendi and obiter dicta is difficult


  • despite not being essential to the court's decision obiter dicta has a role in judgments
  • Wider Comment

  • wider remarks than are necessary to decide the particular case
  • Different Facts

  • speculate about the decision if the facts of the case had been different

    Howe (1987)

    • ratio decidendi of case: duress is no defence to murder
    • House of Lords obiter dicta: duress is no defence to attempted murder

    Brown (1993)

    • ratio decidendi of case:consent is no defence to injury caused by sadomasochistic activities
    • House of Lords obiter dicta: consent can be a defence to injury caused by tattoos, body piercing and ritual circumcision
  • Precedent

  • put forward what ecision would have been if he had not been bound by judicial precedent
  • Dissenting

  • dissent from the majority decision
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