Pros and Cons of Judicial Precedent

The doctrine of judicial precedent, also known as stare decisis, is a fundamental principle of common law legal systems. It involves following the legal precedents established by previous court decisions when making current decisions. While there are advantages and disadvantages to this doctrine, it remains a vital component of the legal system in many countries.


Provides stability and predictability: Judicial precedent provides stability and predictability in the legal system by ensuring that like cases are decided in the same way. This allows individuals and businesses to plan and make decisions with greater certainty.

Saves time and resources: Judicial precedent saves time and resources by allowing judges to rely on previous decisions rather than starting from scratch in every case. This means that cases can be resolved more efficiently, without the need for lengthy legal arguments in every case.

Promotes fairness and equality: Judicial precedent promotes fairness and equality by ensuring that similar cases are decided in a consistent manner, regardless of the individuals involved. This helps to ensure that the law is applied equally to all members of society.

Encourages incremental change: Judicial precedent encourages incremental change in the law by allowing new legal principles to be established gradually, over time. This allows the law to adapt and evolve to meet changing social and economic circumstances.


Can lead to inflexibility: The doctrine of judicial precedent can lead to inflexibility in the law, as judges may be reluctant to depart from established legal principles, even when they believe that a different outcome would be more just.

May perpetuate mistakes: Judicial precedent may perpetuate mistakes made in previous decisions, as judges are required to follow the legal reasoning of earlier decisions, even if they believe that the earlier decision was incorrect.

May be difficult to apply: Judicial precedent may be difficult to apply in cases where the material facts and legal issues are not precisely the same as those in previous cases. This can create uncertainty and confusion for judges and lawyers.

May be slow to adapt to change: The doctrine of judicial precedent may be slow to adapt to changing social and economic circumstances, as new legal principles may take time to develop and become established.

In summary, while the doctrine of judicial precedent provides many benefits, including stability, predictability, fairness, and incremental change, it also has limitations, including inflexibility, the potential perpetuation of mistakes, difficulty of application, and slow adaptation to change. The benefits and limitations of the doctrine of judicial precedent must be carefully considered and weighed by judges and legal scholars in order to maintain a fair and effective legal system.
Back to blog

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
ESSEC Business School

  • 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.