When the outcome of a case is largely decided by a precedent case, what happens to the cases citing it?

  • Not sure what jurisdiction you were looking for; I added an answer for united-states
    – Pat W.
    Nov 21, 2015 at 18:17

1 Answer 1



Overturned precedent doesn't automatically imply any change in outcomes for the parties involved in the subsequent case. If eligible (details, details...), the party that stands to gain can sometimes request this be taken into account. Regardless of a particular case's status, it does mean people need to figure out what went wrong and take that into account next time.


A case might get overturned if it

  • was flawed; or
  • conflicted with a newer decision; or
  • created unjust results or burdens

When a cited case gets overturned, the cases that cite it get a ``flag'' in a precedent research database (e.g. West uses yellow or red flags). The flag means there has been some negative treatment.

Negative treatment can mean lots of different things. This is because cases typically aren't yes-no; they often have many different aspects. So when a case gets "overturned" the first question to ask is: what part was overturned? Let's call that the "dirty" part.

If subsequent cases that cited it were referring to the "clean" part, then there's no issue. If the subsequent case cites the "dirty" part, it becomes "dirty" as well.

Assuming the precedent used to decide the case was "dirty," there's no automatic implication. That said, there are a couple ways the party most negatively impacted might be able to get it back in front of a judge. Those mechanisms can be a) somewhat technical, b) jurisdiction-dependent, and c) rely on particular conditions being satisfied.

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