Due to prior test cases the House of Lords, since 1889, held that they could not reverse decisions made previous law lords, as they were the same level, i.e they could not over rule themselves. This caused problems for the development of laws and so in 1966 a Practice Statement was written that gave the House of Lords the discretion to over rule previous decisions.
The House of Lords has held that they were bound to follow its own past decision London Street Tramways Co V London County Council in 1889, but in 1966 they were given the power to use discretion in relation to past cases – this is known as the Practice Statement written in 1966
In the case of Murphy V Brent Wood Council (1990) the Practice statement used to over rule previous decision; but this was not the first time it was used. The the first use of the Practice Statement was Conway v Rimmer 1968.
In 1965 the case of Automatic Telephone and Electric Co Ltd V Registrar of Restrictive Trading Agreements provides an an interesting example of accepting the judgments of a previous court. There were three judges in a case of Schweps V Registrar of Restrictive Trading Agreements (held just before the previous case, and one judge was over ruled by two other judges. In the next case, with the same judges, which the same issue was discussed the one disentting judge did not dispute the results, as he recognized that he must follow the decision of the previous court. Therefore the case of Automatic Telephone and Electric Co Ltd V Registrar of Restrictive Trading Agreements was three judges to nil, where as the case in the same year, on the same subject, by the same judges, was 2 judges to 1.
Following on from the cases in 1965, in 1975 the case of Miliangoes v George Frank Ltd direct that the Court of Appeal should follow the House of Lords, regardless of their own interpretation, and even if events have changed.