What is precedent?
Under the Australian legal system, prior decisions of a higher-level court create biding precedents which a later lower-level court is bound to follow. In other words, if there is a high degree of similarity between the case at hand and another case that has already been decided, the court must follow the decision of the previous case in order to decide the case at hand. A case that has already been decided is known as precedent. Therefore, a court is required to refer to previous decisions in similar cases in addition to the relevant statute.
In general, precedents are usually cases of significant influence. They are logically rigorous and thus then are often published in legal journals for educational purposes, as well as for public scrutiny.
Under the Australian legal system, the excellence of a judgment depends to a large extent on the lawyer’s ability to help the court sort out the facts of the case with accuracy and clarity, and to organize the argument in a reasoned way. That is also the reason why attorneys’ signatures are often included in judgments as a sign of respect. An influential precedent is closely linked to the excellent work of a lawyer. To put it another way, the best proof of a lawyer’s ability is to represent a case that becomes a precedent for judgment.
Dong v Song
Dong v Song was represented by Chenshan Lawyers and was then cited as a precedent by the Supreme Court of New South Wales.
In Rathswohl v Court, the Supreme Court of NSW had to decide on the admissibility of the plaintiff’s recorded evidence (unauthorised private recordings). Under Australian evidence law, evidence obtained for an improper purpose or by illegal means (“improperly or illegally
obtained”) is inadmissible in court. Thus, the question for the Supreme Court to answer was whether the unauthorized recordings were obtained “improperly or illegally”. This was a complex question and the Court needed to refer to precedent to help answer it. The Supreme Court of NSW primarily considered the case of Dong v Song, which we represented after looking at a series of precedents because it is the most detailed precedent, and the judge quoted extensively from the original decision.
In addition, Dong v Song has been included in the Federal Law Review, the value of its decision speaks for itself. Furthermore, the fact that it directly guides the current decision of the Supreme Court of the State of New South Wales is another indication of its excellence. As the attorney of the winning side, we are pleased to have been able to assist out client to achieve justice in such an extremely adverse situation, we are also proud to have contributed a precedent of excellent judgement to the Australian legal system. Moreover, we will be more determined to keep serving our clients and assisting the courts in the future.