Case law, also used interchangeably with common law, is law that is based on precedents (previous judicial decisions) rather than law based on constitutions, statutes, or regulations. Case law uses the detailed facts of a case that have been resolved by courts or similar tribunals. These past decisions are called "case law", or precedent. Stare decisis—a Latin phrase meaning "let the decision stand"—is the principle by which judges are bound to such past decisions.
These judicial interpretations are distinguished from statutory law, which are codes enacted by legislative bodies, and regulatory law, which are established by executive agencies based on statutes. In some jurisdictions, case law can be applied to ongoing adjudication; for example, criminal proceedings or family law. (Full article...)
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For examples of noted cases, see Lists of case law. Following is one example of such a noted case:
R v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, ex parte Bancoult (No 2)  UKHL 61 is a UK constitutional law case in the House of Lords concerning the removal of the Chagos Islanders and the exercise of the Royal Prerogative. The Chagos Islands, acquired by the United Kingdom in 1814, were reorganised as the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) in 1965 for the purpose of removing its inhabitants. Under a 1971 Order in Council, the Chagossians were forcibly removed, and the central island of Diego Garcia leased to the United States for use as a military outpost.
In 2000, Olivier Bancoult brought a judicial review claim against the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for the initial ordinance which led to the Chagossian removal. Bancoult sought a writ of certiorari on the grounds that the ordinance was ultra vires ("beyond power" – that is, that the ordinance had been made without legal authority), a claim upheld by both the Divisional Court and the Court of Appeal. In response, Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, repealed the 1971 Order in Council and announced he would not appeal against the decision, allowing the Chagossians to return home.
In 2004, a second Order in Council, the British Indian Ocean Territory (Constitution) Order 2004, was produced, again reinstating the off-limits nature of the Chagos Islands. Bancoult brought a second case, arguing that this Order was again ultra vires and unreasonable, and that the British government had violated legitimate expectation by passing the second Order after giving the impression that the Chagossians were free to return home.
The new Order was again struck down by the Divisional Court and Court of Appeal before proceeding to the House of Lords where it was heard by Lords Hoffmann, Bingham, Rodger, Carswell and Mance between 30 June and 3 July 2008. In their judgment, issued on 22 October 2008, the Lords decided by a 3–2 majority to uphold the new Order in Council, stating that it was valid and, although judicial review actions could look at Orders in Council, the national security and foreign relations issues in the case barred them from doing so. In addition, Cook's statement had not been clear and unambiguous enough to provide legitimate expectation. (Full article...) (more...)