Importance Of Ratio

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The ratio decidendi (ratio) is the legal rule or principle that arises from a court’s decision that also encapsulates the reasoning behind the rule. The ratio from a case is binding on later cases in lower courts through the doctrine of precedence; a ratio from a case must be used in similar cases that come before lower courts later on. Ratios can be stated broadly or narrowly and this determines the scope of the ratio and outcome of later cases. In my view, it is better to have a ratio that is stated broadly. Although there are advantages and disadvantages to both broad and narrow ratios, a broader scope allows application to a greater range of fact situations and will be easier to evolve and modernize, as demonstrated by some major cases …show more content…
A broad ratio can be applied to many different fact situations that have similar material facts as the case at hand. With broader terms forming the ratio, more cases will fall under the legal principle that it stands for. An example of this would be Donoghue v Stevenson, where Lord Atkin’s ratio stated that a manufacturer has the duty of care to ensure that their products do not cause harm to the user. This ratio was stated very broadly and could be applied to all products, not just ginger beer specifically, nor is it limited to only food and drink as Lord Macmillan suggested in his judgment. In the later case Grant v Australian Knitting Mills Ltd, a customer bought undergarments that caused rashes. The principle from Donoghue v Stevenson was taken and applied. The court found that Australian Knitting Mills had a duty ensure that their product would not harm the consumer, which went on to further develop in consumer rights under the common law. The broad scope of the Donoghue v Stevenson ratio allows for easily application to future cases. Having flexibility in a ratio allows the common law to modernize and evolve much more easily; its applicability to a range of cases means that judges can apply the ratio to later cases, but also able to modify the ratio to suit current societal …show more content…
The ratio would become a mere individual application instead of creating precedence. The courts will be able to distinguish cases based on different issues or material facts from the precedent. Different outcomes may be reached if the material facts differ even slightly. This is undesirable as law should be consistent and predictable, hence why we have the doctrine of precedence. If a ratio is too fact specific it would be impossible for it to form the basis of useable precedence; it would be very rare for another case to come up that is so similar and hence the ratio would essentially be unusable. Using the example of Donoghue v Stevenson again, had the ratio been “a manufacturer of ginger beer must take care to ensure that no snails may enter and contaminating the product which would cause the consumer to become ill”, it would be near impossible to apply to subsequent cases. The chances of another case arising with the same material facts as Donoghue v Stevenson would be extremely slim and therefore stare decisis would be very difficult to operate with this ratio. If a narrow ratio of Donoghue v Stevenson had been used, negligence under the common law would have also developed much slower. Cases concerning negligence in products would have had to either been under an existing category where duty of care was owed such as ropes or shampoo or any product where the consumer and producer

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