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The Human Rights Act and the Doctrine of Precedent

Pattinson, Shaun D.

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Conflicts between domestic precedents and subsequent decisions of the European Court of Human Rights have resulted in the lower courts following prior domestic decisions even when convinced that they will be overruled on appeal. The standard interpretation of the decision of the House of Lords in Kay v Lambeth holds the lower courts to domestic precedents that are manifestly inconsistent with the subsequent Strasbourg jurisprudence and admits only the most limited exception. This paper advances an alternative approach to the relationship between the domestic courts' obligations under the Human Rights Act 1998 and the doctrine of precedent by analysis of the nature of the doctrine of precedent and the reasons offered by Lord Bingham in his leading judgment in Kay. This analysis is then extended and applied to two recent cases in which the lower courts have considered themselves bound by a decision of the UK's highest appeal court that fails to give due effect to the applicants' Convention rights.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 27, 2013
Online Publication Date Mar 17, 2014
Publication Date 2015-03
Deposit Date Jan 1, 2014
Publicly Available Date Mar 17, 2016
Journal Legal studies
Print ISSN 0261-3875
Electronic ISSN 1748-121X
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 35
Issue 1
Pages 142-164
Public URL


Accepted Journal Article (285 Kb)

Copyright Statement
This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Pattinson, S. D. (2014), The Human Rights Act and the doctrine of precedent. Legal Studies, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.

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