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LWB145 Lecture Notes - Week 8.docx

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Queensland University of Technology

LWB145 Week Eight Lecture Notes The Doctrine of Precedent Part One How to Successfully Study This Topic  Read Connecting with Law Chapter 10  Read Judicial Reasoning and the Doctrine of Precedent Chapter 5 (CMD)  Read Laying Down the Law Chapter 6 (CMD)  Read the Study Guide material for Weeks 8 and 9  Listen to the Lecture and print out the PowerPoint Slides Introduction  What is the Doctrine of Precedent?  It is the principle that two similar cases should be decided alike.  Judges rely on the Doctrine of Precedent to help reach a decision in the case before them.  Which courts bind which other courts?  If a court is bound to follow a decision of another court, what part of the decision must be followed? Rationale  See Telstra Corporation v Treloar (2000) 102 FCR 595 at 602 (page 117-118 of Laying Down the Law) outlines four rationales for the Doctrine of Precedent:  Certainty  Equality  Efficiency  The Appearance of Justice Precedent in 30 Seconds  A court will be bound by a decision of a superior court in the same hierarchy.  A court is bound to follow the ratio decidendi of an earlier decision, but will not be bound to follow the obiter dictum of that earlier decision. Precedent – Basic Rules  Rule: A court is bound to follow the decisions of courts superior to it in the same hierarchy.  Authority: Broome v Cassell & Co Ltd [1971] 2 QB 354; R v Casey; R v Smythe [1977] Qd R 132.  Textbook: Pages 72- 73 (CMD). When is a Court Superior to another Court?  A court is superior to another court if it lies higher up in the appeal chain to the lower court.  The rationale for decisions of a superior court being binding on the lower courts in the same hierarchy is that the superior court has the power to overrule decisions of the lower court on appeal.  Exception: the Doctrine of Precedent does not apply between the District Court and Magistrates Court even though appeals from the Magistrates Court go to the District Court.  This is for two reasons: first, the District Court is extremely busy and often makes decisions ‘on the spot’ – these are typically not the best decisions to set as a precedent; and second, the District Court does not always report its cases and decisions.  Authority: Valentine v Eid (1992) 27 NSWLR 615.  A decision of a single judge of most courts – even the High Court – is not binding on the courts below.  Authority: Bone v Commissioner of Stamp Duties [1972] 2 NSWLR 651.  Textbook: Pages 77 – 78 (CMD). Courts at the Common Apex of Different Hierarchies  The Privy Council (until 1986) and now the High Court of Australia sit at the very top or ‘apex’ of all the state and territory jurisdict
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