Binding Authority and Persuasive Authority

In the legal system, there are two types of authorities that courts and lawyers use to support their arguments: binding authority and persuasive authority. Understanding these authorities is crucial for interpreting and applying the law effectively, as these legal principles guide how courts make decisions based on precedent and influence the development of case law.

Binding authority is a legal precedent that must be followed by the same or lower courts in the same jurisdiction. It is created when the same or higher makes a decision on a legal issue, and the same or lower courts are bound by that decision when deciding similar cases in the future. Binding authority can also come from sources such as statutes, regulations, and case law. For example, a decision by the Supreme Court of England and Wales is binding on all lower courts in England and Wales.

Persuasive authority is a legal precedent that is not binding on the court, but may be considered and used as a guide. Persuasive authority can come from sources such as decisions of courts in other jurisdictions, academic writing, and policy documents. It is up to the discretion of the judge to determine the weight given to persuasive authority in making their decision. For example, a decision by a court in Australia may be persuasive in a case being heard in England and Wales.

The distinction between binding and persuasive authority is important because it helps to determine the weight and applicability of legal precedent in a given case. When a higher court has created a binding precedent, lower courts in the same jurisdiction must follow it. However, persuasive authority can be used as a guide to support legal arguments or to propose new legal principles that may eventually become binding authority.

Back to blog
UOL Case Bank

UOL Case Bank

Upon joining, you become a valuable UOL student and gain instant access to over 2,100 case summaries. UOL Case Bank is constantly expanding. Speed up your revision with us now.

Subscribe Now

Where are our students from?

Yale University
Council of Europe
Baker Mckenzie 
University of Chicago
Columbia University
New York University
University of Michigan 
University College London (UCL)
London School of Economics (LSE)
King’s College London (KCL)
University of London
University of Manchester
University of Zurich
University of York
Brandeis University
University of Exeter
University of Sheffield
Boston University
University of Washington
University of Leeds
University of Law
Royal Holloway, University of London 
Birkbeck, University of London
SOAS, University of London
University of Kent
University of Hull
Queen’s University Belfast
Toronto Metropolitan University
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
University of Buckingham

  • Criminal Practice

    Diagrams and Charts

    Our carefully designed diagrams and charts will guide you through complex legal issues.

  • Criminal Law

    Clear and Succinct Definitions

    Key concepts are concisely defined to help you understand legal topics quickly.

  • Property Law

    Statutory Provisions

    Statutory provisions are provided side by side with legal concepts to help you swiftly locate the relevant legislation.

  • Public Law

    Case Summaries

    We have summarised important cases for you so that you don't need to read long and boring cases.

  • Evidence

    Rules and Exceptions

    Rules and exceptions are clearly listed so that you know when a rule applies and when it doesn't.

  • Company Law


    Legal terms and key concepts are explained at the beginning of each chapter to help you learn efficiently.

  • Case Law

    Case law is provided side by side with legal concepts so that you know how legal principles and precedents were established.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Law Essay Guide

    You will learn essential law exam skills and essay writing techniques that are not taught in class.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Problem Question Guide

    We will show you how to answer problem questions step by step to achieve first-class results.

  • Conflict of Laws

    Structured Explanations

    Complex legal concepts are broken down into concise and digestible bullet point explanations.

  • Legal System and Method

    Legal Research

    You will learn legal research techniques with our study guide and become a proficient legal researcher.

  • Jurisprudence and Legal Theory


    All essential concepts, principles, and case law are included so that you can answer exam questions quickly.