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, however distinguishing between ratio decidendi and obiter dicta is difficult and can lead to confusion.
Despite not being essential to the court's decision obiter dicta has a role to play in judgments.
A judge may wish to make wider remarks than are necessary to decide the particular case.
A judge may wish to speculate about the decision he would have made if the facts of the case had been different.
Ratio decidendi of the case was that duress is no defence to murder.
House of Lords suggested, obiter dicta, that duress is no defence to attempted murder.
Ratio decidendi of the case was that consent is no defence to injury caused by sadomasochistic activities.
House of Lords suggested, obiter dicta, that consent can be a defence to injury caused by tattoos, body piercing and ritual circumcision.
A judge may wish to put forward what his decision would have been if he had not been bound by judicial precedent.
A judge may wish to dissent from the majority decision.