Stare Decisis Definition and Legal Meaning

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

What is Stare Decisis?

(n) Doctrine of Stare Decisis stands for the liability of the lower court to abide by the decisions taken by the appellant court on issues raised in the lower court irrespective of whether the trail judge believe otherwise. The trial court has to wait for another order to change its stand.

History and Meaning of Stare Decisis

Stare decisis is a Latin term that means "to adhere to decided cases". It is a doctrine in the common law legal system that requires courts to follow the decisions of higher courts in similar cases. This principle is based on the idea that stability and predictability in the law are essential components of a fair and just legal system. Stare decisis is often cited as a cornerstone of the British and American judicial systems.

The doctrine of stare decisis has its roots in medieval English common law. It was first codified in the 16th century by English jurist Sir Edward Coke in his Institutes of the Lawes of England. The doctrine was later adopted by the American legal system, with the U.S. Supreme Court recognizing it as a general rule in the landmark case of Marbury v. Madison (1803).

Examples of Stare Decisis

  1. A lower court must follow the precedent established by a higher court in a previous case when the facts are similar.
  2. A state court must follow U.S. Supreme Court decisions interpreting the U.S. Constitution.
  3. A trial court must follow the ruling of its appellate court on issues that were raised and decided in the previous appeal.
  4. A federal court in one district must follow the decision of another federal district court in the same circuit.
  5. A state court must follow decisions of its own state's supreme court on issues of state law.

Legal Terms Similar to Stare Decisis

  • Precedent: A legal case that establishes a principle or rule. Precedents are relied upon to decide future cases.
  • Res Judicata: A legal principle that prevents a case that has already been decided on its merits from being re-litigated.
  • Obiter Dictum: A statement made by a judge during a legal opinion that is not necessary to the outcome of the case. Such statements are not legally binding precedent.