The court may in a case of ambiguity especially where

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narrowly, in such a way that it has no obvious application in the present case. The court may in a case of ambiguity (especially where the prior decision consisted of several judgments in different terms) conceive of the ratio of the earlier case in such terms as to make it inapplicable. The court may accept that the ratio of the previous case was such-and-such, but argue that in this form it went only so far, was intended to go only so far, and in light of the (somewhat) different facts of the present case, it is appropriate to further refine it. As such, the present court may qualify, extend or otherwise modify the apparent ratio of the prior case. The court may say outright that the prior decision was wrong, if it has the power to do this (it will not if the court responsible for the decision was a superior court in the same hierarchy). Some of these devices do overlap. Another way to overcome an entrenched but unwelcome decision of a court as to the law is by legislation. This is scarcely a flexible device and will not assist a particular party to litigation. Legislation is often used, however, to reform the common law. This process necessarily involves nullifying common law decisions. 2.3 Statute Law 2.3.1 Overview The law created by the legislature (parliament) is known as statute law. A law passed by the legislature, and which receives the Royal Assent, is known as an Act of Parliament. Acts are the primary form of statute law. There is also a secondary form known as delegated, or subordinate, legislation. This legislation is made by a body other than parliament under authority of an Act of Parliament. It fleshes out the more general principles set out in the Act to which it applies. Parliamentary legislation has a long history, stretching back to Norman times. It has become increasingly important in the last 200 years in Britain and of course in Australia, as a source of law. This is because the growing complexity of society has necessitated a greater degree of intervention by the government and parliament in social and economic affairs. The welfare state, for example, has required the creation of numerous and wide-ranging statutory schemes. In each jurisdiction today there are thousands of statutes in existence, many of them underpinned by extensive schemes of subordinate legislation. On one view legislation represents a more flexible system of law-making than does judge-made law. The latter is created on an ad hoc , case-by-case basis. Where legislation is concerned, the government can direct a panel of people to research and draft an extensive scheme of legislative regulation and procure its passage and approval as an Act. This facility is demonstrated, in particular, in the typical resort to legislation to reform a branch of the common law that has grown untidy and from a policy viewpoint in some respects inappropriate during the course of its slow case-by-case evolution.
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