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.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

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)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.

case law

law established by following judicial decisions given in earlier cases. See PRECEDENT, STARE DECISIS.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006
References in periodicals archive ?
Yet, the fiduciary's breach of this agency law duty based on unauthorized disclosures is not clearly classified under decisional law as improper information sharing that provides a basis for tipper/tippee insider trading liability under federal law.
It was wrong in the first instance." (148) Grimes is perhaps an example of judicial paternalism in the ongoing struggle within decisional law to find the boundary between professionalism and the patient's right to self-determination.
Although such a view tends to slight state decisional law as dispositive evidence of the meaning of a state's common law, it is in rough harmony with Justice Story's later recognition in Swift v.
Relying on Arnes II, the taxpayers argued the transaction was tax-free under section 1041 and that the legal standard to apply was the primary and unconditional obligation standard established by the constructive dividend decisional law. Under that law, a payment to a shareholder in redemption of stock is a constructive dividend to the remaining stockholder if the nonredeeming shareholder had a primary and unconditional obligation to buy the stock.
The ECJ has the power under Article 177 of the EC Treaty to issue preliminary rulings on questions of Community law presented to a national court.(2) The preliminary ruling has a binding effect on the national courts, which in turn implement the decision into their own decisional law. Ideally, this process provides for the uniform interpretation of Community law and is necessary for its uniform application.
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.S.
97-48's conditioning of nonretroactivity on disregard of decisional law has been criticized by practitioners and may be unprecedented.
Failing denial, PEARL asks the Court to remand the case to the District Court so that a full record can be developed, with a hearing or trial on the facts, so that the Court would be able to take into full account the facts and events that have transpired and the decisional law handed down since Felton.
Those rulings constitute the body of decisional law that now binds VA.
The decline comports with trends spotted in the analysis of the decisional law. Finally, the authors reviewed the source of the decline in an effort to determine whether juries had given up awarding substantial verdicts frequently or whether a change in the law (other than legislation) compelled the shift.
The statutory and decisional law of most States is strongly influenced by Delaware law.