The Latin phrase ‘ratio decidendi’ translates as the ‘rationale or reason for the decision’. It is the point which determines the judgement in a case or the principle established by it. Ratio decidendi is, in other words, a legal rule consistent with and derived from the elements of legal reason within judgements on which the outcomes of cases depend.
Ratio decidendi in practice
The ratio decidendi in a compensation claim following a road traffic accident, for example, would be that a driver has a duty of care towards other road users whom he or she can reasonably foresee his actions can have an effect upon.
Ratio decidendi in plain English
In plain English, this means the reason for a court’s decision to award compensation to a driver, or passenger injured by accident on the road, is the assumption that when a driver gets behind the wheel, he or she knows that lack of attention, careless driving or making mistakes, is likely to hurt someone and should subsequently act assertively to prevent traffic accidents.
Lawyers can use the ration decidendi to force courts to make decisions they may not otherwise make.
In a driver or passenger injury claim, for instance, the defendant may try to have the case thrown out because the driver did not wear his seatbelt, making him at least partly responsible for his injuries by car accident. This could mean he could end up with no compensation.
In such a case, the claimant’s lawyer could cite the precedent set by the 1976 case of Froom vs. Butcher. In this case, the decision made by the court was that if the claimant’s failure to wear a seatbelt:
- Had no effect on the sustained injury, he should receive full compensation as he did not contribute to the extent of the injury by motoring accident
- Contributed to the injury to a minor degree, his contribution to the extent of his injury by vehicle collision was 15 per cent
- Had a substantial effect on the extent of sustained injuries, he contributed to the road accident and his injuries by 25 per cent
In the latter two scenarios, the awarded compensation would be reduced by the respective percentages.
Experience and successful claims
Our highly-experienced legal team at Accident Advice Helpline know all the terms and tools necessary to successfully manage driver injury claim. In many cases, it is even possible to avoid court hearings.
Speak with one of our friendly helpline advisers on 0800 689 0500 for more information, relevant to your individual claim today.
Date Published: March 2, 2015
Author: Accident Advice