A Theory of Precedent in Constitutional Interpretation in Singapore

Judicial precedents in constitutional law raise unique stare decisis considerations which have been the subject of a well-developed body of literature, especially in the context of US Supreme Court constitutional precedents. Yet, despite being a constitutional democracy with a common law heritage akin to the US, little attention has been paid in Singapore to the question of the proper judicial approach towards constitutional precedents, and little effort has been made to engage this significant body of literature. This paper aims to remedy these gaps – to discern the principles that Singapore judges have thus far applied in their considerations of constitutional precedents, to engage with the insights of US case law and academic commentary on the proper approach to stare decisis in constitutional law, and to synthesise these principles and insights into a useful framework that can guide and shape principled stare decisis analysis in Singapore constitutional law.