Numerous sources state that the starting point for all common law systems is the cornerstone principle of stare decisis, ie that courts are in similar fact patterns bound to follow previous decisions of their own judicial rank or higher. There are exceptions to this rule but this is fundamentally the starting point.

And yet other sources claim that county court decisions in England and Wales are merely persuasive, rather than binding, upon the county court itself.

Seemingly this requires some rule or exception to be so as it deviates from the starting point. So why wouldn’t the county court create binding precedent for itself, other than the seemingly only practical concern that its decisions aren’t officially recorded in great detail?

1 Answer 1


You have misunderstood when precedent is binding

Precedent is binding when delivered by a higher court; it is merely persuasive when delivered by a court of the same level or one in a parallel jurisdiction.

So the County Court can overrule County Court decisions, the High Court can overrule High Court decisions etc.

  • Are you sure I’ve misunderstood the general thrust of stare decisis? Oct 9, 2023 at 13:11
  • According to Wikipedia, “stare decisis […] can be divided into two components:[5] 1. A decision made by a superior court, or by the same court in an earlier decision, is binding precedent that the court itself and all its inferior courts must follow.[5] 2. A court may overturn its own precedent, but should do so only if a strong reason exists to do so, and even in that case, should be guided by principles from superior, lateral, and inferior courts.[5]” Oct 9, 2023 at 13:40

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