Ex tempore

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Ex tempore (Latin for "out of the moment“) has two meanings:


"Extempore" or "ex tempore" refers to a stage or theater performance that is carried out without preparation or forethought. Most often the term is used in the context of speech, singing and stage acting.[1] Some kinds of oral poetry depend on a certain degree of extemporization, including the couplet, the Gstanzl, and the limerick. Avadhanam performance of India requires high level of extemporisation to create hundreds of poems in different styles in front of a large audience.[2]


"Ex tempore" is a legal term that means 'at the time'. A judge who hands down a decision in a case soon or straight after hearing it is delivering a decision ex tempore. Another way a judge may deliver a decision is to reserve his decision and deliver it later in written form.[3] An ex tempore judgment, being off the cuff, does not entail the same preparation as a reserved decision. Consequently, it will not be thought out to the same degree.

In Australia, intermediate-level courts tend to have a heavy case load, and so many decisions are delivered ex tempore for reasons of time and necessity. Because many decisions are ex tempore, intermediate-level courts' decisions are not binding on inferior courts - that is to say, that in New South Wales, the District Court's decisions are not binding on the Local Court (see Valentine v Eid (1992) 27 NSWLR 615 and stare decisis).

Ex tempore decisions are not binding on later courts due to the quick nature of their delivery after the hearing of a case. Therefore, these decisions are of persuasive authority only and a later court, dealing with a case of similar facts, can reach a different conclusion if it is appropriate and the court in question believes that their decision is more suitable.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nettl, Bruno; Russell, Melinda (1998). In the Course of Performance: Studies in the World of Musical Improvisation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-57410-3.
  2. ^ Srihari, Gudipoodi (30 March 2007). "Amazing Avadhanam". The Hindu (newspaper). Archived from the original on 8 July 2007. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  3. ^ Zander, Michael (2004). The Law-Making Process. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-60989-0.