Using case law involves a number of steps.
- Find previously decided cases that are potentially relevant.
- Check that the new case and the earlier decisions are sufficiently similar on their material facts.
- Check whether the previous decisions were made by a higher court in the same hierarchy as the court deciding the new case.
- Identify the ratio decidendi of the earlier decisions.
- Apply the ratio decidendi to the new case, taking account of any different circumstances when predicting the outcome.
Working through an example will give you some experience of how to follow these steps properly. The case study that follows sets out particular events from which a legal dispute arises. You will need to employ the techniques of finding, understanding and applying case law to resolve this dispute.