Distinction between ratio decidendi and obiter dictar

Ratio decidendi:
o Literally means reason for decision.
o This is a principle or proposition of law based on the material facts of the case.
o It disposes off the case before the court.
o It is the binding part in a precedent.
o It comprises a group of fact situations with those of the instant case as minimum.

Obiter dicta:
o Literally means the way.
o These are the way statements made a court in the course of judgement.
o They do not dispose off the case before the court and are not binding in subsequent similar cases.
o They reinforce or strengthen the decision of the court.
o May be relied upon advocates in subsequent cases as persuasive authority.

 

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