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Ratio Decidendi & Obiter Dicta

Muhammad Irfan Riaz 12342 Muzamal Rasool 12231

Definition Ratio Decidendi

The word ratio comes from the word ratiocinate which means Reason and the word decidendi signifies decision. Thus Ratio Decidendi is the Reason for Decision. Ratio Decidendi is general legal principle applied in a particular decision. It is the rule of law which the court regarded as governing the case in question.

Sigsworth 1935

Mary Sigsworth was murdered by her son. She had not made a will. The son who murdered his mother was forbidden from inheriting her estate, despite a statute to the contrary. The court held he could not on the reasoning( ratio decidendi)
No one is entitled to profit from his own wrong

Ref: 50 Lectures on English Jurisprudence by Rohinton Mehta Page. 122

Finding a Ratio

Difficult though the task of finding the ratio is, there would be a measure of agreement in propounding that no rule should be treated as ratio which would not support the ultimate order. Where a stated rule obviously bears no relation to the facts, it is no more than a dictum.

Approaches to Determine the Ratio

The Reversal Test The Material Fact Test Limitations

Same Result Different Reasons

Suppose that each of five judges gives a different reason for arriving at the same result and without disagreeing with the reasons given by the other four. Such a case may be said to have five competing rationes and a subsequent tribunal may adopt any one of them for the purpose of deciding the case before itself. Ref. Jurisprudence by R W M Dias Page

Obiter Dicta

Pronouncements of law, which are not part of the ratio decidendi, are classed as obiter dicta and are not authoritative. Obiter Dicta is what the judge said, just by the way. Obiter dicta are the statements of law which are not necessary for the decision they give and go beyond the requirement of the particular case. Any statement of law, no matter how carefully considered, which was not the basis of the decision is obiter. Obiter dicta has not binding authority on a subordinate court; it however has a persuasive value.

Yousuf Raza Gilani Case

SUO MOTU CASE NO. 04 OF 2010 Contempt proceedings against Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani, the Prime Minister of Pakistan regarding non-compliance of this Courts order dated 16.12.2009 Jusitice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa Remarks ( Khalil Jibran 1883 1931 Poem)

Yousuf Raza Gilani Case

I have had the privilege of going through the proposed judgment authored by my learned brother Nasir-ul-Mulk, J. and I am in respectful agreement with the same. I would, however, add the following note to the proposed judgment.
Pity the Nation Pity the nation that is full of beliefs and empty of religion. Pity the nation that wears a cloth it does not weave,

Yousuf Raza Gilani Case

eats a bread it does not harvest,

and drinks a wine that flows not from its own winepress. Pity the nation that acclaims the bully as hero,

Double jeopardy

Double jeopardy is a procedural defence that forbids a defendant from being tried again on the same (or similar) charges following a legitimate acquittal or conviction. Constitution of Pakitan Article 13(a) No Person shall be prosecuted or punished for the same offence more than once

US Court Decision

US Circuit court decision regarding the Copy Right Violation. There is no copyright Violation What about fraud.


An obiter is an expression of an opinion on a point which is not necessary for the decision of a case. Two questions may arise before the court for its determination. The court may determine both, although only one of them may be necessary for the ultimate decision of the case. The question which was necessary for the determination of the case would be ratio; the opinion of the court on the question which was not necessary to decide the case would be only obiter dictum.


The Ratio Decidendi is a legal source of the law The Obiter Dictum is only a historical source of the law. Every precedent has to have a ratio but it may or may not have an obiter A dictum may also be adopted as the ratio decidendi of a subsequent decision and will then acquire the authority of that court.