Common law

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In common law legal systems, judges have the authority and duty to decide what the law is when there is no other authoritative statement of the law. Once an appellate court has decided what the law is, that precedent tends to bind future decisions of the same appellate court, and binds all lower courts reviewed by that appellate court, when the facts of the case are similar, until there is another authoritative statement of the law (e.g. by a legislature or higher court). The common law forms a major part of the legal systems of those countries of the world with a history as territories or colonies of the British Empire (with the exception of Malta, Scotland and Quebec). It is notable for its inclusion of extensive non-statutory law reflecting precedent (stare decisis) derived from centuries of judgments by working jurists.