Ratio Dicidendi

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A statement of ratio dicidendi is the reason for a decision. This term is often used when discussing judgements reported in case law. In a written judgement, the judge may describe a number of situations in which the final judgement would have been different. These statements, however, are obiter dicta, or by-the-way. Only the ratio dicidendi -- the real facts and the real decision -- are relevant when applying a binding precedent (see: Precedent). Determining the ratio dicidendi in case law reports is not always straightforward.