Stare Decisis Law and Legal Definition

Stare decisis is a Latin term meaning "to stand by things decided". It is a legal doctrine in which courts generally follow the application of the law as decided in similar prior cases, which is referred to as following precedent. The requirement that a lower court must follow a precedent is called stare decisis.

Precedent means that the principle announced by a higher court must be followed in later cases. A recent decision in the same jurisdiction as the instant case will be given great weight. Decisions of lower courts are not binding on higher courts, although from time to time a higher court will adopt the reasoning and conclusion of a lower court.