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Review Your SQE 1 Practice Records

Examination Timing: 00H00M59S

Three High Court judges sit together as a Divisional Court of Appeal on a decision made by the County Court. The claimant supports its case by an earlier decision of the High Court. The defendant rightfully claims that the earlier decision of the High Court failed to take account of a binding authority. 


Which of the following statements best describes the legal position under these circumstances?

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The question concerns the power of the High Court to depart from its earlier decisions when sitting as an appellate court. The High Court hears appeals from the Magistrates' Court, Crown Court, or County Court. When two or more High Court judges sit together as a Divisional Court of Appeal or Review, their decisions are binding on any other Divisional Court. However, when acting as a Divisional Court (hearing an appeal), the High Court may depart from earlier decisions of the High Court when it considers that the earlier decision was reached in error by the court (per incuriam), for example, because it failed to take account of a binding authority. This principle ensures that erroneous decisions do not continue to influence the law. 


Key Point: High Court decisions, when sitting as an appellate court, may depart from earlier decisions if those earlier decisions were reached per incuriam.

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