In Insurexpert’s Blog, insurance expert witness David H. Paige, Esq, writes that court decisions interpret and supplement the legal standards created by statute and by common law.
When determining the value of a court decision as precedent for future liability of insurance agents and brokers, it is important to keep in mind that courts have a specific function in our legal system: to fill in the “gaps” by applying a combination of statutory law, regulations and prior court decisions to the facts before them. When legislatures do not make law on a particular subject, it is the courts’ obligation to draw from prior court decisions and the custom and practice of the community to develop legal standards on its own. The tradition of court-made law, called “common law” was adapted from the British legal system, and works well in the country as well.
Individual court decisions are sometimes “result oriented” and do not identify a trend.
While it is sometimes tempting to draw a conclusion [either positive or negative] from a particular court decision, it is often the case that courts will feel the need to interpret the law in a manner that obtains a desired result for a plaintiff or to “punish” a defendant who the court believes has acted improperly. It is for this reason that a real “trend” in court decisions can only be accurately identified when a series of decisions begins to show a shift in the standards that create legal liability.
Read more: thePaigeReport.