Law Of The Case Definition and Legal Meaning

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

What is Law Of The Case?

(n) Law of the case is the legal views arrived and pronounced by the judge with respect to the lawsuit pending before him. Later in all reference during the trial he is expected to continue with the same observation of law which is referred as ‘law of the case’

History and Meaning of Law Of The Case

Law of the case is a legal term that refers to a doctrine in American jurisprudence which holds that a decision on a legal principle made by a higher court during the course of the same case must be followed by all inferior courts to ensure consistency in rulings. Essentially, it means that once a court has decided on an issue in a case, that decision sets a binding precedent that is to be followed by all subsequent proceedings in that same case.

The principle was established to prevent endless litigation and conflicting decisions in a single case, as well as to foster consistent decision-making in subsequent stages of litigation. It also serves as a way to limit relitigation of issues that have already been decided to prevent abuse of the judicial process.

Examples of Law Of The Case

  1. In a criminal case, the defendant's attorney appealed a decision made by the trial court to admit certain evidence. The appellate court reversed the decision, finding that the evidence was improperly entered. The trial court must then exclude that same evidence on remand, consistent with the law of the case.

  2. A plaintiff brought a lawsuit arguing that a statute was unconstitutional. The district court ruled that the statute was constitutional, and the plaintiff appealed. The appellate court affirmed the district court's decision, stating that the law of the case doctrine required them to follow the prior decision on the constitutionality of the statute.

  3. A judge makes a legal ruling denying evidence entered by the defendant. This ruling becomes the law of the case and must be followed by all subsequent court proceedings within the same case.

Legal Terms Similar to Law Of The Case

  1. Precedent: A legal decision or rule that is used as a basis for solving subsequent similar cases.

  2. Stare Decisis: A legal doctrine that requires courts to adhere to the previous rulings (precedent) made in similar cases.

  3. Collateral Estoppel: A doctrine which precludes the relitigation of an issue that has already been decided in a prior case.