Legal Definition of case law
- The entire collection of published legal decisions of the courts which, because of stare decisis, contributes a large part of the legal rules which apply in modern society. If a rule of law cannot be found in written laws, lawyers will often say that it is a rule to be found in "case law". In other words, the rule is not in the statute books but can be found as a principle of law established by a judge in some recorded case. The word jurisprudence has become synonymous for case law.
Definition of case law
case law (plural case laws)
- Law or system of laws established based on judicial precedent rather than on statutory laws created by legislation.
Case law is the reported decisions of selected appellate and other courts (called courts of first impression) which make new interpretations of the law and, therefore, can be cited as precedents in a process known as stare decisis. These interpretations are distinguished from statutory law which are the statutes and codes enacted by legislative bodies; regulatory law which are regulations established by governmental agencies based on statutes; and in some states, common law which are the generally accepted laws carried to the United States from England. The rulings resulting from trials and hearings which are not selected as 'courts of first impression' do not become case law and cannot be precedents for future court decisions. 
The legal systems of the Nordic countries are sometimes included among the civil law systems, but as a separate branch, and sometimes counted as separate from the civil law tradition. In Sweden, for instance, case law arguably plays a more important role than in some of the Continental civil law systems. The two highest courts, the Supreme Court (Högsta domstolen) and the Supreme Administrative Court (Regeringsrätten), have the right to set precedent which is binding on all future application of the law. Courts of appeal, both general courts (hovrätter) and administrative courts (kammarrätter) may also issue decisions that act as guides for the application of the law, but these decisions may be overturned by higher courts.
- Case law, Law.com, 
- Black, Henry Campbell. Case law, Black's Law Dictionary, Fifth Edition, West Publishing Co., St. Paul, MN, 1979
- Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.
TOP LEGAL TERMS THIS WEEK