Holding Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Holding, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Holding?

(n) Holding is the process by which a decision, opinion, finding, title etc are made valid, effective and binding, by the persons or entity authorized to do them

History and Meaning of Holding

The term "holding" has its roots in common law jurisprudence. It refers to the legal principle that a judicial decision or ruling constitutes a binding precedent for future cases in the same jurisdiction. When a court issues a holding, it essentially sets a legal standard for how similar cases should be decided in the future.

A holding can be seen as the legal rationale or reasoning behind a court's decision. It is the part of a judicial opinion that states the rule of law that the case establishes, as opposed to mere dicta or commentary on the facts of the case. It is also what distinguishes a holding from a dictum or an obiter dictum, which are statements made by a judge that are not essential to the decision.

Examples of Holding

  1. In Roe v. Wade, the United States Supreme Court held that a woman's right to choose to have an abortion was protected by the Constitution.

  2. In Miranda v. Arizona, the Supreme Court held that criminal suspects must be informed of their right to remain silent and to have an attorney present during police interrogations.

  3. In Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court held that "separate but equal" segregation was constitutional, a decision that was later overturned by Brown v. Board of Education.

Legal Terms Similar to Holding

  1. Precedent: A court decision that establishes a legal rule or principle that should be followed in future cases.

  2. Dictum: A remark made by a judge that is not binding and does not form part of the court's decision.

  3. Ratio decidendi: The legal rule or principle that forms the basis of a court's decision and that must be followed in future cases.