The predictability of judicial decisions: criminal law implications of the dialogue among Courts

Legal certainty is one of the fundamental pillars of the rule of law; it is closely linked to the stability of judicial decisions and, consequently, to the associates’ trust in the judicial system. The need for certainty is particularly acute in criminal matters and it is addressed by the principle of strict legality, which enables associates to foresee the legal consequences of a particular conduct. However, in the application of rules there is an inevitable element of judicial interpretation; the situation appears to be further complicated by the impact of the decisions of the European courts on the interpretation of national criminal provisions. The paper focuses on the issue of predictability of judicial decisions, with particular reference to the changes in case law brought about by the rulings of the European Courts. It also deals with the phenomenon of overruling, which may have significant consequences when it comes to criminal law.