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Lesson 12 - Arbitration - Precedents

What is a Precedent ?

A Precedent is a decision found in an earlier Arbitration case that can be used in recurring processes for future actions by CAcert people, or in new disputes that are filed into the forum.

How does it affect CAcert in practice ?

Engineers [*] can apply a Precedent to a situation. Engineers need to be aware of the general scope and topics that are covered by existing Precedents affecting their team. Team Leaders can be consulted, and also the list below. Important Precedents will form part of the training.

If the subject matter appears close to the topic in a running situation, the Engineer can consult the ruling. Once Precedent is found that is on point, the process is the following

[*] Here, Engineers is used broadly to mean all CAcert people affected by a Precedent. Most Precedents will affect Support Engineers, Critical sysadms, Software Engineers, and Assurers, but the forum and any ruling is not limited to these people.

How does it affect Arbitration in practice ?

In CAcert, Precedents are primarily written to guide Engineers and save them the need to file disputes for routine issues. However, Precedents also guide future Arbitrations, and this is their more normal role in legal practice within the tradition of the English common law.

An Arbitrator needs to be aware of the general scope and topics that are covered by existing Precedents. At the simplest level, this can be achieved by scanning the list below. If the subject matter appears close to the topic in a running arbitration, the Arbitration can refer to the full ruling to clarify.

Once Precedent is found that is on point, the process is the following:

How to make a Precedent Ruling

An Arbitrator identifies when a case may result in a Precedent.

Wider Considerations

An Arbitrator should think three times before deciding to issue a Precedent Ruling. As the ruling will then become the basis of many future actions, more care is needed. Others should be consulted on the likely ruling, before it comes into affect, as Engineers, Team Leaders and other Arbitrators may have a lot to offer.

The Precedent should be written from the point of view of the Engineer -- how easy is it to identify the Facts and the Execution? How easy is it to follow the steps? Does the Precedent assist the Engineer or hinder? Does the end result merit a Precedent, and does it meet the general Principles of the Community?

Complications and confusions may result in many errors, or the Precedent may simply not attract attention for lack of understanding.

What does a Precedent look like?

A clear Precedent case will deliver for future cases:

  1. the facts applicable to this situation
  2. the execution steps (that can be written in a procedure)
  3. which parties the precedent affects (Support Engineers, Software Engineers, Critical sysadms, etc).

In addition, these things are useful:

  1. A method for documenting the actions taken by the Engineer
  2. A method for documenting all uses of the Precedent.

The Audit Problem: History Logging of cases handling for Audit purposes

Known Precedents Cases

The following two prior precedents cases were made deprecated by a20141024.1, which is a follow up ruling that covers all kinds of delete account cases, now, while the two below only covered special cases:


Inputs & Thoughts

  • 20100225 Iang

  •  *  Correct spelling is Precedent.  The confusion arises from another similar word that sounds similar in the plural:  precedence, meaning priority.

  • 20100225 Iang

  •  * but is an SE free to follow the decision without the case being instantiated?

  • 20100722 u60

  •  Current practice is to add advice to Support, to add the Support Ticket number and Date as post arbitration note onto a precedent case. See precedent cases

A more formal thing, does this page indeed belong to the General Overview? I'd say it is a specific issue that should be addressed in the section which gives the details about the ruling...

  • 20100909 u60

  • As Arbitrator you have to follow Policies, have to check Guidelines.
    You have to take into account that actions that are made before a defined date and time have to be weighted different.
    In this workflow on discovery, you can make your life easier as Arbitrator by checking for precedents cases.
    So, you should keep yourself informed about related arbitration cases and precedents cases.
    Precedent cases nature is, that the Arbitrator has made long deliberations over a case, to check all aspects related to a case. i.e. NB made a precedents ruling about Delete an Account back in 2008. But this case has been overruled by at least 2 other Arbitrators who added several more deliberations that needs take into account about such a case. You'll remember about our first Arbitration team meeting in Jan 2010 with topic "How to handle Delete Account cases". A discussion over 6 hours.
    So using a precedent case as a template for your similar case you're working on is the basis of your new ruling over a new case or its a precedents case for support actions
  • 20130118 Iang

  • I've reworked this page, following on from last night's Arbitrators' meeting.  Feel free to change...


Arbitrations/Training/Lesson12 (last edited 2016-09-18 10:02:31 by PietStarreveld)