1. Describe the main features of the doctrine of precedent

The doctrine of precedent, or stare decisis, is one of the most important features of English and Welsh law. The doctrine states courts are bound by all decisions made by more senior courts; therefore the decisions of the supreme court (or the House of Lords in cases before 2009) bind all other courts. The doctrine of stare decisis ensures consistency and certainty within the common law, and gives judges in lower courts guidance in making their decisions. However, in a 1996 Practice Statement made by Lord Gardiner to the House of Lords he stated that adhering to rigidly to the doctrine of precedent would lead to unfair decisions, injustice and potentially the restirction of the proper development of the law. As such, he proposed that decisions from higher courts would normally be binding but could be departed from when it was right to do so. 

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