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  1. It is a legal phrase which refers to the legal, moral, political, and social principles used by a court to compose the rationale of a particular judgment. Unlike obiter dicta, the ratio decidendi is, as a general rule, binding on courts of lower jurisdiction--through the doctrine of stare decisis. Certain courts are able to overrule decisions of a court of co-ordinate jurisdiction--however out of interests of judicial comity they generally try to follow co-ordinate rationes. The process of determining the ratio decidendi is a correctly thought through analysis of what the court actually decided – essentially, based on the legal points about which the parties in the case actually fought. All other statements about the law in the text of a court opinion – all pronouncements that do not form a part of the court’s rulings on the issues actually decided in that particular case (whether they are correct statements of law or not) -- are obiter dicta, and are not rules for which that particular case stands.
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