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Stare Decisis


Stare Decisis is a Latin term that means ‘to stand by that which is decided.’ In the context of finance and law, it refers to the principle that previous court decisions establish a precedent which influences and guides future decisions. This concept promotes stability and certainty in legal and financial matters.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Stare Decisis” is “stair-ee dih-sigh-sis.”

Key Takeaways

Sure, here are three major takeaways about Stare Decisis:“`html

  1. Stare Decisis is a fundamental legal principle that promotes consistency and predictability in law. It dictates that courts should follow judicial precedents established in previous legal cases.
  2. In the context of the federal courts and the Supreme Court in the United States, Stare Decisis helps maintain stability and respect for court decisions. However, the principle is not absolute and can be set aside if there are compelling reasons and circumstances.
  3. Stare Decisis is a complex doctrine with potential for controversy. Critics argue that it may lead to perpetuation of unjust or outdated laws, but proponents believe that it provides a necessary level of stability and predictability in the legal system.



Stare decisis is a crucial principle in the business and finance sector as it establishes a sense of predictability and consistency in legal interpretations. The term, derived from Latin, means “to stand by things decided.” It refers to the doctrine where courts follow legal precedents set by previous decisions, acknowledging them as binding. In the context of business and finance, this principle ensures regulatory stability, fairness, and efficiency, letting businesses operate under clear, established guidelines, reducing uncertainty, and encouraging confidence in financial activities. This principle also aids in dispute resolution that might arise in transactional relations by providing standardized solutions, thus promoting uniformity in business environments.


Stare Decisis, as a guiding principle in the legal and financial sector, provides a mechanism for stability and predictability in decision-making by the respective institutions. Understanding its purpose uncovers its function as an essential bedrock in the execution of law and finance for both contemporaries and future generations. As a principle derived from the Latin term meaning “to stand by things decided,” it requires courts to abide by, or adhere to, decided cases, demonstrating the need for maintaining consistent standards in making future decisions. Consequently, stare decisis not only connects the present with the past decisions but also charts a course for future judgments. In the world of finance and business, stare decisis plays an instrumental role by laying down precedents that shape norms, practices, and policies. For instance, once a court makes a ruling on a particular financial matter or business dispute, the decision becomes binding in similar future cases, thus ensuring fair and consistent outcomes. Beyond its role in court rulings, stare decisis, through creating a stable legal environment, helps foster a fertile ground for industries and capital markets to thrive. Investors, businesses, and creditors are therefore more likely to make confident decisions knowing that there’s an established legal direction that governs their risks, rights, and obligations.


Stare Decisis is a Latin term that means “to stand by things decided”. It is a legal principle by which judges are obliged to respect the precedence established by prior decisions. This doctrine is applied to business/finance within the context of legal decisions regarding commercial disputes, tax laws, financial regulations, etc. Here are three real-world examples:1. Marquette National Bank v. First of Omaha Corp:In this 1978 United States Supreme Court case, the court ruled that state usury laws (which limit the amount of interest that can be charged on loans) could not be enforced against nationally chartered banks based in other states. This set a legal precedent that governed similar cases, under the principle of stare decisis. Following this decision, banks began to relocate in states with more lenient usury laws and then offer credit across the country.2. South Dakota v. Wayfair Inc:The Supreme Court’s 2018 decision in this case overruled two precedents set by earlier rulings (National Bellas Hess v. Department of Revenue of Ill. and Quill Corp. v. North Dakota) that mandated a company must have a physical presence in a state for that state to require them to collect taxes. The new ruling, based on stare decisis, underlined the concept that online retailers could be obliged to collect sales taxes even in states where they have no physical presence.3. Apple Inc v. Pepper:This case from 2019 dealt with antitrust disputes over pricing on Apple’s App Store. The Supreme Court ruled that consumers purchasing apps could directly sue Apple over inflated prices, despite Apple’s assertion that only the app developers, not consumers, had the standing to sue. This decision adhered to the principle of stare decisis, reinforcing earlier rulings regarding direct purchaser’s rights in antitrust cases.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Stare Decisis?

Stare Decisis is a Latin term that stands for ‘to stand by things decided.’ In law, it refers to the principle that courts should respect the precedent established by prior decisions unless there’s a strong reason not to.

How does Stare Decisis relate to finance and business?

Stare Decisis establishes a level of predictability, which can be beneficial in finance and business. For instance, court decisions involving contract disputes, corporate law, or financial regulation often set precedents that future cases will adhere to.

Why is Stare Decisis important?

Stare Decisis allows for consistency in court decisions, thus maintaining stability in the legal system. This stability can help businesses and financial institutions plan their activities according to predictable legal outcomes.

Can a court decide to not follow the principle of Stare Decisis?

Yes, a court can choose to not follow precedent if it decides that the precedents were incorrectly decided or are outdated due to societal, economic, or technological changes.

How does Stare Decisis impact financial regulations?

In finance, regulatory bodies and courts may use Stare Decisis to interpret and apply financial laws and regulations. This ensures consistent enforcement, thus creating an environment where businesses understand their legal and regulatory obligations.

What is an example of Stare Decisis in financial or business law?

An example of Stare Decisis in finance would be court decisions related to the interpretation of financial regulations. Once a high court provides a particular interpretation, lower courts will typically adhere to that interpretation moving forward.

Is the principle of Stare Decisis universal across all countries?

The principle of Stare Decisis is central to many common law jurisdictions, like the United States and United Kingdom. In civil law jurisdictions, like France or Germany, prior case law is less binding, and courts have more flexibility to interpret laws case by case.

Related Finance Terms

  • Common Law
  • Precedent
  • Jurisprudence
  • Legal Doctrine
  • Binding Precedent

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