Slave of the past, tyrant of the future? Judicial precedent as a form of legal argumentation in the case-law of integration courts

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Author: Ekaterina Diyachenko

DOI: 10.21128/2226-2059-2022-3-50-74

Keywords: judicial discretion; Court of Justice of the European Union; Court of Justice of the European Free Trade Area; Andean Tribunal of Justice; Caribbean Court of Justice; Court of the Eurasian Economic Union; judicial dialogue; precedents


Argumentation is the basis of the activity of a judicial body. The influence of a judicial act on law enforcement practice depends on the depth and persuasiveness of argumentation. Judicial reasoning is extremely important in the exercise of judicial discretion, which requires a detailed justification of the reasons for choosing one of the legal options for resolving the dispute. The reasoning is of particular importance for the courts of integration organizations, since the interpretation of legal norms carried out by them affects not only the activities of supranational institutions but also of domestic law enforcement. The practice of courts of integration organizations demonstrates the characteristics of the methods of argumentation used by them, such as an argument based on the utility of an action, an appeal to the legal positions of other international courts, and case-based argumentation. Based on an analysis of general approaches to judicial argumentation, a conclusion is formulated about the inseparable connection between argumentation, interpretation, and proof. Ways of argumentation are considered as a particular manifestation of the methods of interpretation. Using examples of the practice of the Court of Justice of the European Union, the Courts of the Andean and Caribbean Communities, and the Court of the Eurasian Economic Union, general conclusions are made about the meaning and features of the argumentation based on the practice of other international courts and on their own legal positions formulated in earlier judicial acts. Referring to the approaches of other international courts is, on the one hand, a way to enrich one’s own practice by borrowing legal structures or models of legal argumentation, and on the other hand, it is a tool to enhance the persuasiveness of adopted judicial acts. References to the practice of other international courts make it possible not only to understand the arguments in a particular case, but also to provide an opportunity to assess the position of the integration court in the broad context of other judicial bodies. Case-based reasoning helps to ensure the stability, predictability, and continuity of judicial practice. Departure from precedent requires a detailed explanation and can be expressed by reference to different factual circumstances and by more persuasive reasoning.

About the author: Ekaterina Diyachenko – Canditate of Sciences (Ph.D.) in Law, Counsellor to a Judge of the Eurasian Economic Union Court, Minsk, Belarus; Senior Researcher of the International Law Sector of the Institute of State and Law, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia.

Citation: Diyachenko E. (2022) Raby proshlogo, despoty budushchego? Pretsedent kak forma argumentatsii v sudakh integratsionnykh ob’edineniy [Slave of the past, tyrant of the future? Judicial precedent as a form of legal argumentation in the case-law of integration courts]. Mezhdunarodnoe pravosudie, vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 50–74. (In Russian).


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