, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 181-214
Date: 14 Jun 2012

A factor-based definition of precedential constraint

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Abstract

This paper describes one way in which a precise reason model of precedent could be developed, based on the general idea that courts are constrained to reach a decision that is consistent with the assessment of the balance of reasons made in relevant earlier decisions. The account provided here has the additional advantage of showing how this reason model can be reconciled with the traditional idea that precedential constraint involves rules, as long as these rules are taken to be defeasible. The account presented is firmly based on a body of work that has emerged in AI and Law. This work is discussed, and there is a particular discussion of approaches based on theory construction, and how that work relates to the model described in this paper.