Legal English – Peter’s Pills – Lesson 71 – Types of cases: Landmark cases

Legal English for Notaries - By Federnotizie

Types of cases: Landmark cases


Hello! Today we look at landmark cases in the common law system.

Case law is also known as judge-made law or precedent and it refers to the body of law established through the decisions made by judges in individual cases. Sometimes we use special names to define certain types of cases and one such an example is “landmark case”.

What is a landmark (punto di riferimento)? The most famous landmark in Paris is the Eiffel Tower, while in London it is Big Ben and in Rome it is the Colosseum. Landmarks change the scenario. They make us see the world differently and from a different perspective. So, when society changes, new technology comes in, or people start seeing laws differently, landmark cases are created. They help us to see legal issues in a completely different and new way.

Landmark case often establish new legal principles, interpret existing laws in a groundbreaking (innovativo) way, or address new never-before-seen (mai viste prima) legal issues. Landmark cases often set precedents that influence future judicial decisions and shape (modellano) the direction of legal practice and interpretation.

For example, the case of Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] is considered a landmark case in the development of the law of negligence, as it established the principle of duty of care (dovere di diligenza) owed (dovuto) by manufacturers (produttori) to consumers. Until that case, no law or case had ever suggested that a manufacturer owed a duty of care to a customer. This helped us to see our legal duties in a totally different way and changed the legal scenario.

Another common law landmark case is Mabo v Queensland (No 2) [1992]. It is highly significant in the development of common law principles related to indigenous land rights. This landmark Australian case challenged the legal concept of terra nullius – the idea that Australia was uninhabited (disabitata) before European settlement (insediamento) – and recognised native title rights for Indigenous Australians. Its influence on legal thinking regarding indigenous rights and land ownership has been profound and is often cited (citata) in discussions of human rights and property law worldwide (in tutto il mondo).

Thank you very much, and see you next time for more Peter’s Pills to improve your legal English.

Read 15 important US landmark cases here: “APGOPO: Landmark Cases“.

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