Arthur Goodhart Ratio Decidendi Analysis

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In the article entitled ‘Determining the Ratio Decidendi of the Case’ by Arthur L. Goodhart, I underwent a roller coaster-like journey on exploring the science behind the nature of a precedent in English law. Goodhart started with the attempt to explain the full meaning of ratio decidendi in the simplest terms. He referred to Sir John Salmond’s definition in which I have interpreted ratio decidendi as the principle of law that is found in a court decision and possesses the authority to be binding. Ratio decidendi should be distinguished from a judicial decision, as the latter is a wider concept and contains the ratio decidendi, whereas the former is a principle that carries the force of law. In another reference, Professor John Chipman Gray…show more content…
This is where the opinions of the judge become relevant. To ascertain the materiality of the facts, one would have to use these as reference. If the judge’s opinion does not explicitly express on which of the facts are material, then generally, all facts in the case are presumed to be material except for those which are obviously not. For example, facts relating to a person, time, place, and amount are insignificant because they will probably not affect the case in any way. Now, if a particular fact is recorded by the reporter, but it is not mentioned in the judge’s opinion, this could one mean one of two things; whether the judge has overlooked the fact to be material or the judge is implying that the fact is indeed immaterial. Generally, the latter proves to be true unless presented with contradicting evidence. Subsequently, this goes both ways. If a judge explicitly states a fact is immaterial then it is so and if the judge states a fact to be material, then it is so too.
What I can safely conclude from these theories then is that the status of a fact, that is whether it is material or not, plays a big role in forming the principle of law or ratio decidendi. Why? Because by eliminating the immaterial facts, the court may come about a principle that is more extensive or broad and therefore can be applied as binding precedent in future cases with similar
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