case law

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Case Law

Legal principles enunciated and embodied in judicial decisions that are derived from the application of particular areas of law to the facts of individual cases.

As opposed to statutes—legislative acts that proscribe certain conduct by demanding or prohibiting something or that declare the legality of particular acts—case law is a dynamic and constantly developing body of law. Each case contains a portion wherein the facts of the controversy are set forth as well as the holding and dicta—an explanation of how the judge arrived at a particular conclusion. In addition, a case might contain concurring and dissenting opinions of other judges.

Since the U.S. legal system has a common-law system, higher court decisions are binding on lower courts in cases with similar facts that raise similar issues. The concept of precedent, or Stare Decisis, means to follow or adhere to previously decided cases in judging the case at bar. It means that appellate case law should be considered as binding upon lower courts.

case law

n. reported decisions of appeals courts and other courts which make new interpretations of the law and, therefore, can be cited as precedents. These interpretations are distinguished from "statutory law" which is the statutes and codes (laws) enacted by legislative bodies, "regulatory law" which is regulations required by agencies based on statutes, and in some states, the Common Law, which is the generally accepted law carried down from England. The rulings in trials and hearings which are not appealed and not reported are not case law and, therefore, not precedent or new interpretations. Law students principally study case law to understand the application of law to facts and learn the courts' subsequent interpretations of statutes. (See: case system, precedent)

case law

law established by following judicial decisions given in earlier cases. See PRECEDENT, STARE DECISIS.
References in periodicals archive ?
In order to avoid this injustice, the Court subordinated formal justice to substantive justice by holding that some decisional law would operate prospectively in Linkletter v.
The Supreme Court's Swift decision in 1842 (159) interpreted the Rules of Decision Act to require federal courts to apply state statutes but not state decisional law.
This is not to say that codification is in all cases a bad thing, an evolutionary force that it is the duty of decisional law to oppose.
Mundell is not altogether clear about the extent to which a given state's decisional law might play a role settling the meaning of, or departing from its previously adopted common law.
Law Journal Press (New York) has published Health Care Benefits Law, a looseleaf volume that is designed to "make sense of the non-stop parade of federal and state legislation, regulation and decisional law governing health care benefits.
Under constructive dividend decisional law, the rule is limited to situations when the remaining shareholder has both a primary and unconditional obligation to purchase the stock.
The commissioners asserted that their "plan would increase the consistency and coherence of the law, maximize the likelihood of genuine collegiality, establish an effective procedure for maintaining uniform decisional law within the circuit, and relate the appellate forum more closely to the region it serves.
Evans has surveyed the decisional law, added some jurisprudence and philosophy, and produced a volume which will be essential reading for students of church-state relations in the U.
97-48's conditioning of nonretroactivity on disregard of decisional law has been criticized by practitioners and may be unprecedented.
3) The intention of this article is not to advocate for any position on the current statutory and decisional law, but to instead provide a snapshot of where residential mortgage foreclosure law stands at this time.
4) But these doctrines, which are founded in decisional law, contain exceptions.