Binding Precedent Law and Legal Definition

Binding precedent means a precedent or an existing law that courts are bound to follow. For example, a lower court is bound to follow an applicable holding of a higher court in the same jurisdiction. Such precedents are also termed authoritative precedent or binding authority.

Such precedent exists within common law jurisdictions that recognize judicially made law. Generally, binding precedents follow the doctrine of stare decisis, which means ‘stand by the decision.' Most states within the U.S. follow a common law system of law.