Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunals in the course of deciding cases, in which the law was analyzed using these cases to resolve ambiguities for deciding current cases. These past decisions are called "case law", or precedent. Stare decisis—a Latin phrase meaning "let the decision stand"—is the principle by which judges are bound to such past decisions. These judicial interpretations are distinguished from statutory law, which are codes enacted by legislative bodies, and regulatory law, which are established by executive agencies based on statutes. In some jurisdictions, case law can be applied to ongoing adjudication; for example, criminal proceedings or family law.
In common law countries (including the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand), the term case law is a near-exact synonym for common law. It is used for judicial decisions of selected appellate courts, courts of first instance, agency tribunals, and other bodies discharging adjudicatory functions. (Full article...)
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For examples of noted cases, see Lists of case law. Following is one example of such a noted case:
Eng Foong Ho v. Attorney-General is the name of two cases of the Singapore courts, a High Court decision delivered in 2008 and the 2009 judgment by the Court of Appeal. The main issue raised by the case was whether the Collector of Land Revenue had treated the plaintiffs (later appellants), who were devotees of the Jin Long Si Temple, unequally by compulsorily acquiring for public purposes the land on which the temple stood but not the lands of a Hindu mission and a Christian church nearby. It was alleged that the authorities had acted in violation of Article 12(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore, which guarantees the rights to equality before the law and equal protection of the law.
The High Court held that the plaintiffs lacked locus standi to bring the action as they were not the temple's legal owners. In any case, as there was evidence that the authorities had rational reasons for treating the temple property differently from the property of the Mission and the Church, the High Court found that there had been no breach of Article 12(1). Furthermore, the Court determined that the plaintiffs were guilty of inordinate delay in bringing the action.
On appeal, this decision was upheld in part by the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal found that the plaintiffs (appellants) had locus standi to bring the action as they were members of a Buddhist association, for whose benefit the temple property was held by its trustees. In addition, the Court found that the plaintiffs had not been guilty of inordinate delay in commencing the suit. However, the Court agreed with the trial judge that the Collector had not acted in violation of Article 12(1). In determining this issue, the Court held that the test to be applied is "whether there is a reasonable nexus between the state action taken and the object of the law". Such a nexus will be absent if the action amounts to "intentional and arbitrary discrimination" or intentional systematic discrimination. It is insufficient if any inequality is due to "inadvertence or inefficiency", unless this occurs on a very substantial scale. In addition, inequalities arising from a reasonable administrative policy or which are mere errors of judgment are insufficient to constitute a violation of Article 12(1). (Full article...) (more...)