nIn 1292 court clerks began recording the rulings of the common-law courts and by the 14th century these
decisions were serving as
precedents to guide judges in similar cases. As the centuries passed, coherent principles of law emerged
from the decisions of the
nThus, in contrast to Roman law systems, which are based
on legal codes, the common
law developed primarily through judicial
decisions. The common-law doctrine of following precedent, known as stare
decisis, really took hold with the development of the printing press in the 15th century.
nToday, it remains an important component of both the
English and American legal
systems. The doctrine holds that a court should follow the principle of law enunciated in
previous decisions by the highest
court within its jurisdiction.