Law: Case note
A case note presents an overview and analysis of a legal case. It is usually divided into two parts: a case summary and a case analysis. The case summary provides a description of the facts, procedural history and legal reasoning of a case. The case analysis involves a discussion of the judgment’s impact and the legal implications of the case. In this resource you will learn about researching and writing a case note assignment.
Five tips for case note assessments
- Your summary of the case must include: an overview of the facts, the procedural history and a detailed explanation of the legal reasoning of the case. Use headings to clearly show your summary structure.
- Keep the overview of the facts short. Include only the essential background information that explains what event/incident led to the legal case.
- The procedural history of a case means the passage of the case through different courts before the present court case you are analysing. For example, your assessment may require you to write about a High Court case. The procedural history of the case may therefore begin in the Supreme Court, then be heard on appeal to the Court of Appeal, and then to the High Court.
- The legal reasoning refers to the reasoning of the judges in coming to their decision. You need to explain how the judge/s arrived at their decision, by considering the legal issues they needed to consider and how they applied the law in coming to their decision. Pay attention to majority and minority judgments, and explain these separately.
- The case analysis is similar to an essay. In this part of the assessment, you need to do more research to find out the importance and implications of the case. For example, is the case important because it has changed the law in a significant way? What was the law before this case? Use headings and structure the analysis like an essay, with an introduction, body and conclusion.
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