Ratio Decidendi and Obiter Dictum
Although the doctrine of binding precedent states that all courts bind all lower courts and some courts also bind themselves, it would be wrong to conclude that everything contained in a decision is of equal weight. More particularly, the traditional view holds that there is a crucial distinction between the ratio decidendi (commonly reduced to ratio) of a judgment, which will be the binding part, and the obiter dicta (commonly reduced to dicta, or, in the singular, dictum) which will be the non-binding part.
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