Common Law began as an unofficial practice among judges and other experts, where the transcripts of disputes in Royal Courts were circulated – eventually, this developed into a formally approved system of precedent, where cases considered to be significant, were documented and later used as authority for specific rules of law.
Precedent is still only set by the superior courts (House of Lords, Court of Appeal, High Court) and is binding on courts of equal and lower rank (Crown Court, County Court, Magistrate’s Court etc.).
Decisions made by judges have authority within the system of law. Many precedents are binding - this means that the principle of law set down by a previous judgement will be binding, in courts of equal or lower rank, in subsequent cases found on similar facts. Precedent can be either authoritative or persuasive:
Authoritative precedent refers to judgements made by higher courts that bind the lower courts.
Persuasive precedent refers to judgements which are not binding upon a court, however, a judge may choose to take them into consideration (for example cases in the USA or Commonwealth).
Health and Safety Case Law
|Donoghue v. Stevenson (1932)||Duty of Care (Neighbour Principle)|
|Edwards v. National Coal Board (1949)||Reasonably Practicable|
|Tesco Supermarkets Ltd v. Nattrass (1972)||Due Diligence|
|British Railways Board v. Herrington (1972)||Occupiers' Liability to Trespassers|
|J. Armour v. J. Skeen (1977)||Personal Liability of Executives|
|Walker v. Northumberland County Council (1995)||Stress|
|Ellis v. Bristol City Council (2007)||Suitability of Flooring|