How to Read a Judgment
"For law students and practitioners, reading a judgment is nothing new. It is something ingrained in you from the moment you immerse yourself in the world of law."The tips are:
"The problem is that as a law student, you are not alwways taught how to read the judgment in the most effective way. I remember on one too many occasions slaving over a judgment, including the notorious Factortame, only to realise afterwards that in fact the approach I took of reading every line with a fine-tooth comb was rather unnecessary."
"Through trial and error, of which there has been much, I have devised a set of tips that I now follow when facing this task. This guidance has proven effective at streamlining the time spent on legal research, focussing my mind on the bits I really need to know rather than the "fluff". They are suitable for anyone who comes into contact with, or has an interest in, case law and is looking for a way to expedite the process of reading it."
- Avoid discussion of the facts
- Skirt around counsels' arguments
- Look out for an overview of the decision at the beginning of the judgment
- Be eagle-eyed for evidence of the decision from the judges' tone and use of language
- If time is of the essence, ensure you read the conclusions of the judges at the end of their decision
- Read the dissenting opinions as these often provide another insight into the legal issue in dispute
Labels: legal research and writing