ratio decidendi

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Ratio Decidendi

[Latin, The ground or reason of decision.] The legal principle upon which the decision in a specific case is founded.

The ratio decidendi is also known as the rationale for a decision.

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

ratio decidendi

‘the rule in a decision’. This is a crucial part of the understanding of the way in which the common law works. Once a system has been adopted of binding PRECEDENT, it has to be discovered what it is in the previous decision that binds the court later in time. While it is sometimes possible to peruse the opinion of the judge to find the rule, this is not by any means a reliable way of discovering the rule in the case. The soundest general method is to discover the material facts of the case, determine what the decision was and then to draw the proposition that most closely marries the material facts to the actual decision. It is difficult enough to do this with a single opinion but very much harder with multiple opinions such as come from the Court of Appeal, the Inner House and the House of Lords. Sometimes it is said to be impossible to form a ratio of general application. Anything that is said that is not part of the ratio is said to be an OBITER DICTUM.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006
References in periodicals archive ?
One symptom identified by Simpson was the rise in interest in the rules of stare decisis and in how the rationes decidendi of cases were to be determined.
Justice Cs decision depended on his or her determination of both issues, thus having two rationes decidendi.
(71) If not permitted to overrule, judges will find other complex, indirect, and ultimately artificial ways of avoiding the binding force of the rationes decidendi of precedent cases, such as distinguishing precedent cases in circumstances where in truth there are no material factual differences upon which distinguishing could be justified.
To draw this comparison between Cook and Curran is to imply that in High Court cases some rationes decidendi are more authoritative than others.