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How to Write a Law Report
Legal reports, also known as legal memorandums, or simply “memos”, are some of the most difficult pieces of text to write.
This is because they often require immense legal expertise, as well as in-depth knowledge of the subject matter in a particular court case or civil dispute.
It is not enough to simply know how to write a legal brief – the writing needs to be case-specific and the facts presented have to be relevant to both parties.
Another factor that comes into play when preparing any document that pertains to legal issues is the difference between legal systems in various countries.
International disputes often require a lot of research and knowledge of the primary sources of law in your targeted countries.
The French legal system, for example, is based around legislation and statutes, which come together to form the basis and primary source of French law. This is fundamentally different from the common law system found in the UK, where collections of previous cases and court practices form the basis around which most legal proceedings revolve.
If you’re in need of translating and transcribing legal memos into different languages , it might be best to contact an established company that provides translation services, such as Architekst, to make sure that the legal differences are taken into account.
Every legal report includes a number of sections that provide a framework for the written arguments and details within it. That structure does not change according to the particular case.
In this article, you will find a detailed account of how to create an effective legal report, which outlines each step of the process.
Language and Structure of a Legal Report
A wise person once said: “Good taste consists of knowing how to conceal the fact that you have any”.
This quote may not seem relevant to creating a good piece of writing, but what it essentially means is that when it comes to any form of art or craftsmanship, simplicity is superior to complexity. The same principle applies when writing legal reports – simplicity is key.
Legal reports are intended to examine a particular legal issue, accompanied by supporting evidence from relevant cases to provide answers to this question.
The first step is to make an outline of all of the points that you are going to cover in your report. It’s worth taking a look at some past reports to get a sense of what’s already been written about and what hasn’t.
Body of the Report
The body of the report will basically comprise a summary of facts, evidence, and arguments. The main aim of this section is to present a fair and unbiased account of all sides involved in any dispute.
There should be no bias or opinionated language in this section – it should just be cold hard facts about what happened.
After you’ve outlined all the points that you’re going to talk about, it’s time to write them up. Make sure you leave sufficient white space on the page so that you can write cleanly and clearly. The reader of your report needs to be able to read what you have written without getting too distracted by unnecessary features and page design.
So long as you have a clear layout and appropriate spacing, there are no strict rules about how your report should be formatted. The point here is not about aesthetics or design choices – it’s about clarity and readability.
When it comes to how best to document your sources – don’t. The truth is that nobody actually cares who wrote what in a legal report. As long as it has relevant information about the case, that’s all that matters.
Legalese is not a writing style that will win you any fans – so make sure your language is clear and accessible to anybody who reads your report.
Any basic legal memorandum’s “skeleton” is composed of five parts: question presented, short answer, statement of the facts, discussion, and conclusion.
The following parts of this article will take you through these sections, outlining what exactly you need to include in them.
This section forms the basis of your entire report. It needs to contain factual, detailed information regarding the legal issues that your particular case faces.
Don’t confuse this with the specific conflict that the two parties are involved in. The question presented needs to pertain to specific paragraphs, articles and sections within the law that will be used in the court’s final decision.
In other words, the “question presented” section of your memo is nothing but the identification of relevant law that your case is subject to.
Remember: a legal report has to reflect the law, not an argument for or against any side involved in the conflict.
Once your legal issues have been identified and laid out in the first section, you can move on to answering the question presented in a clear and concise manner.
You should not go off on tangents about the details of your case or present facts that are not related to legal documents. Just as in presenting the legal issues, your answer to them must be grounded in the law. Otherwise, your legal report will turn into nothing more than a glorified opinion piece.
To continue with the example from the introduction, if you come from the UK and aren’t really familiar with the intricacies of French law, you may enlist the help of certified legal translation services in order not only to help you translate the report but also embed it in the correct French legal provisions.
Statement of the Facts
This section is where you can start getting into the actual, real-life conflict to which your memorandum refers.
The statement of the facts is the part of the report that explains why exactly your case needs to be brought before a court. If you’re planning to submit the text to a judge, you might want to present the issues from your client’s point of view (while maintaining neutral language, of course).
If the material is intended to be read by another attorney, it will be enough to present the situation as briefly and concisely as possible, with the inclusion of the relevant legal provisions.
Discussion and Conclusion
The discussion part of your report is where the facts and relevant law come together to formulate a feasible way towards resolution of the case. Be sure to include legal arguments that support your case.
It might be a good time to add a bit more flair to your text, presenting the argument in a way that makes it sound like the best outcome for the case, one that follows the letter of the law in the minutest of detail.
Finally, the conclusion should be a brief paragraph stating the outcome of the case. It’s important to demonstrate your ability to identify which party will win the case, based on the legal and factual evidence that you provided in the earlier parts of your legal report.
Bear in mind that you shouldn’t try to find a way to sneak in a new argument that favours your client in this section, but rather declare the possible outcome dictated by the law.
The Bottom Line
Now that you know how to write a legal report, you’re ready to create the first draft of your very own legal document. Remember to go through examples of legal reports that are available online to see what these kinds of texts look like in practice. It can also help you avoid some common mistakes and write an effective legal report.
Hopefully, this article will have proved useful to you in terms of guiding you through the structure of such documents, the methods of describing legal issues and your report’s subject matter in a way that will include all the important information as clearly and concisely as possible.
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How to Write an Effective Legal Report the Best Way Possible
By: Shazia Butt Posted on Fri, 18-03-2016
Legal reports, also known as legal memos, are the legal documents informing the attorney or the judge about the legal issues in any case. There are two types of legal reports that can be written. The first category is known as the objective report, which explains all the legal issues, from a neutral point of view. The second category can be persuasive and mirror all the facts and the legal arguments, from another point of view.
The legal system of China is most of the times defined as a constitutional legal system. Despite the fact that the legal system here is governed according to the constitution, it is also based on the Civil Law. This is the reason why the constitution of China is known as the highest law. Here, the legal research reports provide the description and resources on the different issues and events. If you are in need of legal aid and want to know about how to get it, you can get in touch with the Chinese Simplified legal report translation services .
Since, the legal reports are usually in the form of a document, especially for those who are not aware of the language here, can make use of the document translation services . Mentioned below is the best way to prepare a legal report.
Being the foundation of your entire legal report, this first section emphasizes on the exact legal problem. Identifying the legal issue is not similar to identifying what the conflict is about. When you’re determining any legal issue, you always have to research the law relating to the subject matter. The legal report has to mirror the relevant law on the matter at hand.
The first step is to clearly identify what exactly is the issue. After you have identified the legal issue, you have to provide an appropriate answer to the question, of what the law states about the reason of the dispute. Here, it does not matter what you think, but the only thing that matters is what the law says, relating to the issue.
If you have come from another region and are not familiar with the Chinese language, you can take help from the best quality language translation services . Also, hiring the Chinese Simplified Legal Report translation services can be very helpful, if you want more details about the legal services available here.
Statement of the Fact
You have to present the statement of the facts in such a way, that the person who is reading this report can identify why this issue is before the court. If you want to write an effective report to the judge, then, it is very necessary to explain the issue from your client’s point of view. But if you’re recommending this to an attorney, who only wants your opinion on a case, then just simply be straight forward. Including only the relevant facts, narrow them down to those related to the legal issues, the judge will need to decide.
This discussion section of your report is the bottom line of the entire dispute. It not only provides the information of all the legal issues, but also decides on how the issue has to be solved. The primary goal here is to apply the relevant law to the facts. You will have to identify which legal argument is best supportive to your case, and also what outcome will you achieve. Here, it is best to organize your report according to the relevant dispute.
The conclusive part of your report has to be relevantly short and simple, stating the outcome of the case. After going through an appropriate research, you can clearly identify which party will win the case. Now is not the time to add on new arguments in the case, but just declare what has to be the outcome according to the law.
Do you think you are qualified to get legal services? If your answer is yes, then, take advantage of the Chinese Simplified Legal Report Translation Services.
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How to write a legal report?
The purpose of legal reports, also known as legal memoranda, is to state and explain the legal and factual events and concepts in a case. typically, the writing is done by junior paralegals or students who study law and write them for practice. in order to avoid asking for legal report writing help, we have prepared instructions and… read more ».
The purpose of legal reports, also known as legal memoranda, is to state and explain the legal and factual events and concepts in a case. Typically, the writing is done by junior paralegals or students who study law and write them for practice. In order to avoid asking for legal report writing help , we have prepared instructions and tips for you on how to write such legal documents.
As a rule, legal reports can be written in a simple neutral-explanatory style or in the form of persuasion. In the second case, such reports carry a specific purpose, not just informing. So, how to actually write them?
The Question-Presented Unit
In the first section, you should detail the issue or case to be analyzed and support it with facts. You should always research the law first and then draw your conclusions on the question presented. It should always reflect the application of the laws to the issue at hand.
Thus, your “Question Presented” section should include the legal issues, identifying the applicable law and the major issues in the question format.
The Brief Answer Unit
This section includes your brief conclusion to the questions you outlined in the first unit. You must answer questions such as:
- What does the law say about these cases, and have there been similar cases?
- How can these issues be resolved?
Your answers to the questions should be short and clear.
Statement of Facts Unit
The next section should include facts that are relevant to the case. This data explains to the reader why the court is considering the claim. If it is an informative report and you are giving the facts to the lawyer for an objective evaluation, then you simply state the data directly. If the report is persuasive, you must provide the facts from your client’s perspective.
The section should include all relevant facts, even those that don’t support your client’s position but oppose it. Feel free to omit those facts that cannot affect the court’s decision or do not affect the legal aspects of the case.
This is a good time to get to the main body of your legal memorandum. In it, you must present and explain to the reader the relevant laws of the case and apply them to the facts of the case.
If you have provided more than one question in the Question Present unit, you should organize each question according to the legal topic at hand and use subheadings. At the beginning of each legal question, you should be sure to indicate the rule of law you plan to use and then apply it to the facts.
Make the conclusion of your legal report as concise and simple as possible. Just state the predicted outcome of the case. In the United States, legal precedent governs outcomes. Thus, old cases will influence new ones.
You should not introduce new arguments and facts in conclusion. Your goal is to determine which side will win and why. This should be practically obvious to you after analyzing the relevant legal rules, laws and matching them with the facts. You should also state in conclusion the expected relief that the court will award to the winning party.
Tips for writing legal documents
- Use the active voice: the subject did something, not something was done by the subject. For example, “Miranda discovered the broken window,” not “The broken window was discovered by Miranda”;
- Avoid double negatives;
- Use the Oxford comma when listing items such as judges, magistrates, and clients.
- Don’t get carried away with adjectives and adverbs. You are not writing a literature essay, but a legal report;
- Watch the grammar and the use of tenses. When describing events, they use the past tense more often, but the present also occurs;
- Use gender terminology with caution, and better use the universal “they”;
- Forget about hyperbole, epithets, metaphors, and slang. All these expressions are inappropriate;
- Use specific numbers, dates, and times.
Editing and proofreading
Working on a legal report does not end with writing. You must carefully proofread, check, and edit your text. For example, you should always double-check the names of legal acts, regulations, and laws and all of the legal information you provide.
Your report can be as logical and correct as possible in terms of law and structure but repel with its errors. That’s why every author needs to know grammar and spelling. Not surprisingly, lawyers who make such simple mistakes are often considered unreliable and inattentive to detail.
If you find it difficult to check documents on your own, you can always use paid and free services or even call on the services of professional proofreaders and editors. If you can no longer find errors in your work, try reading it backwards or out loud. Such methods often help you focus on the words individually rather than the context.
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Mayank is an alumnus of the prestigious Faculty of Law, Delhi University. Under his leadership, Legal Bites has been researching and developing resources through blogging, educational resources, competitions, and seminars.
- Finding Articles on a Reading List
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- Sources of Information
- Evaluating your research
- Case Finder Table
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- The All England Law Reports Index
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- Making a research plan: keywords
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Law reports and the doctrine of precedent
Justice is neither to be denied nor delayed’ means that, order for a person to achieve justice in any country, proper laws and procedures are very important in achieving fair and proper justice to a person. Fair and proper justice (substantive justice) it is not only to the person who claimed to be offended but also to the offender himself/herself, by means of giving proper and fair decision, and fair procedure during the trial sessions. Criminal Justice System in Tanzania has a lot of challenges that in end led to injustice and unfair decisions or sometimes no decision at all, which resulted to infringement some of human rights such as torture to the offender who is waiting for a long time for the trial or decision to be made. This paper intends to explain on the nature of the Criminal Justice in Tanzania, before and after the colonialism so as to trace a number of challenges in providing fair and proper justice to both the offender and the victim. In the end the author provides for the possible solutions to overcome such challenges as explained earlier.
Provides LIS NET Paper II & III Yearwise Questions & Answers
‘To attract companies like yours . . . we have felled mountains, razed jungles, ﬁlled swamps, moved rivers, relocated towns...all to make it easier for you and your business here.’ Korten quotes a Philippine government advertisement (1995) Successful governance in the world in the 21st Century requires companies to adopt an inclusive and not exclusive approach. The company must be open to institutional activism and there must be greater emphasis on the sustainable or non financial aspects of its performance. Boards must apply the test of fairness, accountability, responsibility and transparency to all acts or omissions and be accountable to the company but also responsive and responsible towards the company’s identified stakeholders. The correct balance between conformity with government principles and performance in an entrepreneurial market economy must be found, but this will be specific to each company”. King II Report (2002) The quotations above entails the importance of encompassing the two concepts, Corporate Governance as all of the above activities needs a good management of the company including the relationship between the company and its employees, and Corporate Social Responsibility as the activities above influence the living organisms and conditions of the individuals who are living in those mountains, jungles, swamps, rivers, and towns, and therefore it has to be socially responsible for any act affecting them, and also responsible in creating the better living conditions and environments surrounding those living organisms. Corporate or Company Law includes the law concerning the establishment, functional and administration of corporations and their associations with other legal persons. Corporate Governance and corporate Social Responsibility principles are some of the principles used worldwide in relation to handle a matter of business activities specifically corporate activities. There is an assertion that these principles are new phenomenon and not well incorporated to many of the African countries particularly on the laws dealing with businesses. This paper aims at assessing a number of business laws of at least three African countries including Tanzania as to whether, the same principles have been stipulated or not. For the purpose of this paper, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda legal frameworks are going to be used to assess the position of the two concepts named above.
The aim of writing this paper is show how this new piece of legislation have provide for the protection of electronic contracts in Tanzania. The development of science and technology has turned almost everything we know and see upside down in terms of business activities and other activities that we know. This is simply because know a matter or business activity can be done in a slightly touch or click of your computer through a mouse, and then the job or deal is done! This pose a critical problem when it comes to the legal perspective as most of the laws that we have in most of developing countries particularly Tanzania are not sufficient enough to regulate these activities when they are applied unenthusiastically. In my paper named, “Electronic Contracts in Tanzania: A Detailed Discussion on the Formation of Electronic Contract in Digital Age”, I wrote about how the law governing contracts in Tanzania (Cap.345, [R.E.2002]) did not recognize electronic contract, even though there have been a lot of contracts contracted online. This was before the enactment of Electronic Transactions Act. No.13 of 2015. An assessment of the law has been made, and a discussion on the recognition of electronic agent which to my view, the Act did not provide a clear meaning of it, in which it may cause some ambiguity and confusion in the future.
To my honorable Supervisor, Dr. Rakiba Yasmin, Professor, Islamic University, Kushtia, Bangladesh
Anatomy of a law report
Any law reports, whether of the full text or summary type, needs to contain certain fundamental pieces of information in order to justify its being cited in support of a proposition of law.
First of all, it must have a title, usually based on the names of the parties. It must identify the court giving judgment, and the date on which it was given.
Most fundamentally, it needs to contain a statement of the principle of law decided in the case. The statement should ideally be expressed as a rule or proposition which can be applied in subsequent cases even if the facts are not the same. It will usually be taken from the words actually used by the judge(s) but it may be condensed in some way and put into reported rather than quoted speech. The most highly evolved form of such a statement is to be found in the modern headnote of a full text law report as published by ICLR.
Finally, to reassure the reader of the reliability of the report, the reporter must be a qualified lawyer, and this must be evident either from the report itself or the publication in which it appears.
The above five elements (title, court, date, principle of law, reporter) constitute the bare minimum for a summary report. But most reports contain a number of other elements, most notably the full text of the judgment(s) in the case and the names of the judge(s).
What follows is a more detailed explanation of all the various elements of a modern full text law report, such as is published in The Law Reports, listed in the order in which they appear. The illustrations are based on the PDF of this full text law report which it may be helpful to download and view alongside.
Usually the first thing an ICLR report will state is the court from which it is taken. This appears at the top of the first page, and is abbreviated in the running heads.
In some series, the name of the court can only be identified by reference to the volume or publication in which the case appears. For example, cases appearing in the Chancery series of the Law Reports are assumed to be in the Chancery Division of the High Court, unless they are identified as having been decided in the Court of Appeal or, on a reference from the High Court or the Court of Appeal, the Court of Justice of the European Union.
The basic rule
Most case titles are expressed in the form of one party’s (the claimant’s) surname versus (Latin for “against”) another’s (the defendant’s). In civil cases, this appears as Smith v Jones but is conventionally pronounced as “Smith and Jones”.
Criminal cases are almost always prosecuted by the Crown, using the Latin for “queen” (Regina) or “king” (Rex). Most criminal cases therefore take the form of Regina , Reg or R v Brown . It is conventionally pronounced “Queen (or King) against Brown”.
Some criminal cases or appeals are maintained the name of the Director of Public Prosecutions, or DPP, instead of the Crown: eg Brown v DPP .
However references by the Attorney General to the Court of Appeal following an acquittal do not use the defendant’s name, just a reference number: Attorney General’s Reference (No 1 of 2011) . Some civil case titles take other forms, eg In re Smith’s Estate (“in the matter of” Smith’s estate), In re A (A child) or In re Jones Co Ltd (in liquidation).
Judicial review claims (against public authorities alleging breaches of public law), though civil proceedings, are also brought in the name of the Crown, acting “on the application of” (or as it used to be, “ex parte”) the name of the applicant, thus taking the form of: R (Smith) v Secretary of State for Justice or, for older cases, R v Westminster City Council, Ex parte Jones .
Admiralty actions in rem (Latin for “thing” or “matter”) involving a ship are brought in the name of the ship: The Titanic. However, ordinary shipping claims involving litigating parties (claims “in personam”) should not use the name of the ship as a title, though they often do as a form of shorthand: Smith Shipping Coprn v Jones Insurers (The Mary Rose).
The full date of judgment is essential both as a matter of record and to avoid confusion between different cases with similar names or even different decisions in the course of the same litigation.
Hearing dates are an optional but obviously useful addition. (For example, they could help indicate that a case had been heard by the court before an important judgment given in another case, which if known about could have affected the course of argument, or the judgment.)
Where judgment has been reserved, rather than being given directly at the conclusion of the hearing, this should be indicated in the report. (For more on this, see Judgment, below.)
The identity of the judge, as well as that of the court where the hearing took place, is an essential element of any law report. Whilst it may be possible when discussing a case to identify it as “a decision of the Court of Appeal”, or to mention that such-and-such a case was “reversed by the House of Lords” in a subsequent appeal, no report of the relevant decision of the Court of Appeal or House of Lords could be relied upon which did not identify the “constitution” of the court, ie list the names of the judges sitting on the bench, even if they did not all give judgment.
Where more than one judge was sitting, it is also essential to identify which judge or judges gave judgment. Usually this is done by setting out the relevant judge’s name at the beginning of their judgment. Where one or more judges dissent from the decision of the others, this too must be clearly stated in the report.
In some older reports, the name of the judge can only be inferred from the series or volume in which the report appears. You may need to know, for example, who was Vice-Chancellor at the time, and this is sometimes only apparent from information printed at the front of the volume.
Catchwords serve two essential functions. First, they identify the position of the case in a taxonomy of legal subject matters. Secondly, they encapsulate in abbreviated form the issues in the case and any words, phrases or legislative provisions construed by the court.
The first three words or phrases identify the subject matter with increasing particularity according to a taxonomical structure. The first one (eg “Crime” or “Landlord and tenant”) gives a very broad indication of the type of case. The second (eg “Theft” or “Forfeiture of lease”) narrows it down a bit, and the third (eg “Dishonest appropriation” or “Relief from forfeiture”) identifies its subject matter with still more precision. These three levels of particularity are reflected in the hierarchical headings in the Subject Matter index section of the ICLR Consolidated Index, where cases are listed according to their subject matter, and where it is therefore possible to find similar cases listed in the same place (an invaluable research tool).
The remainder of the catchwords set out briefly what the issues in the case were. They identify in inverted commas any words or phrases which the court has defined, and list any statutory provisions or other national or international legislation, conventions etc which the court has considered and ruled upon.
Note: Though catchwords appear in the report, and can help one see at a glance what the case is about, they are not a telegraphic form of headnote, and they do not state the decision. They are essentially an indexing tool, a way of categorising rather than of summarising the case.
A headnote is a summary, appearing at the beginning of a full text law report, encapsulating as precisely as possible the principle of law which the case establishes.
In some cases, this may consist of little more than a bald proposition, which in older reports used to be contained in a sidenote. In most modern reports, however, the headnote will take a bipartite form in which the first part will outline the relevant facts and issues, and the second, in a separate paragraph or paragraphs, continuing after the word “ Held ,” will set out the proposition(s) of law. This structure enables readers quickly and easily to ascertain what the case was about and identify the point of law decided.
In a few cases, a propositional headnote is more appropriate, particularly where the facts are largely irrelevant to any understanding of the principle, and would, if included, simply distract readers from the point of the case. Sometimes this will be followed by a brief statement of the court’s application of the principle to the facts.
Although the headnote adds value to the report of a judgment, it is the judgment itself which sets the precedent and binds subsequent decision-makers.
Nevertheless, a good headnote is a work of meticulous legal draftsmanship and can withstand the closest of textual scrutiny. Accuracy is all. Make the proposition too general, and the principle appears either so watered down as to be meaningless or, more dangerously, misleadingly wide in its application. Draw it too narrowly, and it fails to express the principle on which the court based its decision. At its best, a headnote is a precious distillation – the single malt of legal learning.
7. The blocklists: cases referred to or cited
Where earlier cases have been judicially considered by the court in formulating a principle of law, this is noted in the headnote. Cases may have been followed or applied, or merely considered, or they may have been disapproved or overruled. In the case of a decision being appealed, they will have been affirmed or reversed by the higher court.
But not all cases mentioned in a judgment will have been subject to such particular treatment, and it is therefore useful to have a list of all the cases referred to, together with their main report references and, for judgments given in the 21 st century, their neutral citations.
What distinguishes ICLR reports from those of almost all other publishers is the fact that they also list, separately, the additional cases cited in argument and, where appropriate, cases not cited in oral argument but referred to in counsel’s skeleton arguments (written summaries of submissions exchanged in advance of the hearing).
These lists of cases are referred to generically as “blocklists”. The reporting references given for cases, where more than one such reference is available, are arranged in order of their citation status, with the Law Reports reference being given first (since this must be cited in preference to any other version), followed by the Weekly Law Reports, specialist series published by the ICLR, and then various series, such as the All England Law Reports and Lloyd’s Law Reports, from other publishers. This is also the order in which such references are given in the Consolidated Index, which indexes all the reports published in these and in certain other widely used series.
8. The facts and procedural history
What is sometimes referred to as the “facts paragraph” is a brief introduction to the case, giving the full names of the parties and outlining the nature and history of the proceedings (action, application, appeal etc) between them from their commencement to the current hearing.
Additional information provided here may include a summary of the claims, or the grounds of appeal taken from the appellant’s notice, or the case stated by a lower court on an appeal by case stated.
In some older reports, the facts of the case are also summarised here, rather than being set out in full in the judgment from which they are taken, so that only that part of the judgment dealing with the law and its application to the facts is reproduced.
The names of counsel (barristers) and/or solicitor advocates are given in order of seniority. In more recent reports, these are followed by the names of the solicitors who instructed them. (In older cases, the solicitors’ names are listed at the end of the report.)
The names are grouped according to the parties they represented, in the order in which they would have been heard in court, ie claimant first at first instance, appellant first on appeal.
Where a summary of counsel’s submissions is included in the report, this is set out after the name(s) of counsel who presented it. The summary is based on the oral submissions actually given in court during the hearing, which the reporter has attended in person, supplemented by the skeleton arguments.
The note of argument can demonstrate exactly what points were put to the court, and which cases and materials were cited in support of those points. It is a feature which adds enormously to the value of the report to future readers. It can also help establish whether a particular point was before the court, for example where it is suggested that a particular decision was arrived at “per incuriam” (ie without reference to a critical authority).
This summary of argument is a feature unique to the Law Reports published by the ICLR (no other English series regularly includes it) and is only possible by virtue of the fact that the ICLR’s reporters routinely attend court during the hearing and arguing of cases, and not merely when judgment is given. Once the reporter has prepared a note of argument, a copy is sent to the counsel concerned for them to check and approve its accuracy.
The largest and most important element of a full text law report is the judgment or judgments given in the case. The version used in the report is based on an authorized transcript, approved by the court as an accurate record. It is, however, then subject to a number of editing processes. First, the reporter checks all the references to, and quotations from, other cases, textbooks, statutes and other published materials in the judgment. The text of the judgment is brought into conformity with the ICLR’s “house style” with regard to dates, certain kinds of recognised abbreviations, modes of citation and so forth. Factual references such as dates, sums of money etc are checked for accuracy and consistency.
Once the reporter has handed in the report, it is subedited and edited in-house, and the references and quotations in the judgment are double-checked to ensure complete accuracy. When the report is complete, a proof copy, including the edited version of the judgment, is sent to the judge or judges for their approval. Although judges are welcome to comment on the headnote or other aspects of the report, the main purpose of sending them the proof is for them to approve the judgment. Any queries or anomalies can be brought to their attention at this stage and it is not uncommon for judges themselves to propose minor textual alterations at this stage.
As a result of these processes, the version of the judgment included in a full text law report published by ICLR is more authoritative and reliable than the transcript.
Where judgment has been reserved, rather than being given “ex tempore” at the conclusion of the oral hearing, it is preceded by the words “Cur adv vult” (curia advisari vult, Latin for “the court wishes to be advised”) or “The court took time for consideration”.
At the conclusion of the judgment, there is a brief statement of the orders afterwards given by the court. If there has been an application for leave to appeal, the decision whether or not to grant it will also be recorded.
To ensure their accuracy and reliability, law reports must be written and edited by qualified lawyers, ie barristers or solicitors.
Where the name of the reporter is given in full, it will be accompanied by the word “barrister” or “solicitor”; but for the reporters of the ICLR who have been officially appointed to cover particular courts, and whose names and qualifications are listed in the front of the published volume, only their initials are given on the actual report.
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