Reference and support materials for case law research and legal education.

Back to glossary


A fact or decision which establishes a pattern to be followed by subsequent facts or decisions. In law, the word “precedent” is used to describe a decision of a senior court which is binding on (must be followed or applied by) a court of equal or lower status in a later case. Hence, also, “binding precedent” (though this seems tautologous). Based on the common law doctrine of stare decisis (to stand by what is decided). Similar facts, or exercises of discretion by the court, do not establish precedent, though they may be of contextual interest.

Related Glossary