Central London Property v High Trees
House  Denning J
[Precedent obiter dicta can be
D leased a block of
flats in London from C in 1937. When war broke out, many flats were left
empty as people were evacuated to escape bombings. C agreed to reduce the
rent by half if D stayed. D paid the reduced rent until the end of the
war, and C then claimed for the "arrears".
Held: Denning J "discovered" the equitable doctrine of promissory
estoppel, and said that although C were once again entitled to the rent
originally agreed after the war ended, they could not go back on their
promise to accept a reduced rent for the earlier years.
When a party to a contract makes a promise to the other, which he knows
will be acted on, that he will not enforce his strict legal rights; the
equitable principle of promissory estoppel makes that promise binding on
him until such time as he gives reasonable notice of his intention to
resume those rights.
Denning J (obiter
dicta) said that had Central London sued for the arrears for the
years 1940-45, it would have failed. It would have been estopped
from going back on its promise [as set out in the 1940 agreement] to
accept a reduction in rental, even though that promise had not been
supported by any consideration from High Trees because to hold otherwise
would have been unjust.
Carlton Industries 
[Precedent non binding nature of decisions in
In a property repair case DD applied to have proceedings struck out on the
basis of a long-standing High Court authority.
Held: Dismissing the application and following a
To ensure certainty in the law, where there are two conflicting decisions
of the High Court, the later decision is to be preferred, provided it was
reached after full consideration of the earlier decision, unless the third
judge is convinced that the second was wrong in not following the first.
Huddersfield Police Authority v
Watson (1947) QBD
[Precedent Divisional Courts bound by their own
A police officer
working long hours and suffering worry from his job developed a duodenal
ulcer applied for a pension for an industrial injury.
Divisional Court was bound to follow its own
decision in a previous case (Garvin's case). Where the
Divisional Court was made the final court of
appeal, it must, as a general rule, follow a previous decision of the
court and so avoid a conflict of authority and lack of finality.
PC received his pension.
Michaels & anr v
Taylor Woodrow Developments Ltd & ors (2000)
[Precedent use of reports]
MR Justice LADDIE said:
"There are now significantly more judges, more case and more databases
than there were even two decades ago"
"Now there is no pre-selection.
Large numbers of decisions, good and bad, reserved and unreserved, can be
accessed. Lawyers frequently feel that they have an obligation to search
this material. Anything which supports their clients' case must be drawn
to the attention of the court".
The judge said this meant: increased client
costs which is counter to the spirit of the Woolf reforms poor decisions
which should have "died a quiet death" are used to support actions the
"common law system stands the risk of being swamped by a torrent of
However, Mr Justice Laddie said Roberts
Petroleum Ltd v Kenny Ltd.  HL left problems especially if it were
extended to other courts:
a decision which was clearly wrong but the only authority for an
untenable position would not be excluded by the principle in Roberts
generalised and specialised reports have
proliferated so much that they may be less reliable than in 1983
seeking leave could be too cumbersome a process on
current principles of stare decisis, how could a court of first
instance, for example, refuse a unanimous, but unreported, decision of
the Court of Appeal?
lawyers would still need to search databases
for cases since they still might be able to apply for leave
no-hoper claims might be kept alive pending leave to rely on lame duck
Finally Mr Justice Laddie examined possible
solutions which, in other countries, have involved a class of "non-precedential"
judgments. He suggested that all extempore judgments of any court and any
judgment of courts of first instance should not to be cited unless the
court indicated to the contrary. All judgments would still be available to
the public, but only the selected ones could be used for citation.
R v Greater Manchester Coroner, ex parte
Tal  QBD
^[Precedent binding nature of Divisional
C, the family of
a man who died in a fire at Strangeways Prison, applied to have the
findings of a coroner's inquest set aside for irregularity.
Held: Refusing the application,
We have no doubt that it
will be only in rare cases that a divisional court will think it fit to
depart from a decision of another divisional court exercising this
Divisional Court was strictly bound by the
House of Lords and the Court of Appeal and normally by decisions of other
Divisional Courts in the same way as the Court of Appeal in criminal
Application by the family for
Judicial Review refused
Re Kay's Settlement  Simonds J
[Precedent High Court judge not bound by
brother judge in High Court but will usually follow]
C, trustees of a trust in favour of three children sought directions on
their beneficial entitlement in the trust.
Held: Refusing to depart from
Re Pryce  which had ruled that the trustees should not enforce a
covenant for the benefit of volunteers who had given no consideration.
Simonds J. refused to direct the trustees to put either covenant for
the benefit of the settlor's children.
Re S (Adult: refusal of medical treatment)  Fam
examples of judicial lawmaking]
D the health authority caring
for a seriously ill 30yr old woman
who refused a Caesarean section on religious grounds.
C applied for a declaration to allow an emergency Caesarean
section which was the only means of saving the patient's life and ensuring
the live birth of the baby.
Held: Sir Stephen Brown relied
upon Lord Donaldson's caveat in
Re T (Adult: Refusal of Treatment) 
the only possible qualification is the case in which the choice may lead
to the death of a viable foetus', and the American case of Re AC  and
granted a declaration that a caesarean section could be lawfully performed
on a competent woman without her consent.
This case has
heavily criticised both for its substance and its