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Mark Meggison 1. Explain the concepts of stare decisis and “common law”. Explain how they differ. The concepts of “common law” and “stare decisis”, while closely related, are unique legal concepts with unique meanings. This essay will describe the different nuances of the meaning of the common law, explain the meaning of stare decisis, and then conclude with how they differ. An analysis of common law seems the right place to begin. Discussing common law seems to be the most important part of this discussion since it incorporates the doctrine of stare decisis, and a complete understanding of common law will help to illustrate stare decisis’ meaning. Interestingly, common law seems to have three different “meanings” depending on the context in which it is being used. I’ll refer to them as the original meaning, the modern meaning, and the legal system comparison meaning. The original meaning of common law refers to the goal of simplifying and making more universal the laws of pre-Norman England. Prior to the Norman invasion, the courts, and therefore most laws in England were feudal in that they were based on manorial, local principles and courts. Established after this conquest were the king’s courts, or curiae regis , charged with establishing the king’s authority of law in England through these courts. The universal application of this legal authority created a common, usual set of legal principles to be regarded through the jurisdiction of the entire country. This original target of universal
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This note was uploaded on 03/24/2008 for the course BUS 305 taught by Professor Schantz during the Spring '08 term at N.C. State.

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