Issue: Identify and state the issues

  1. Identify the issues or problems you are trying to answer through close analysis of the facts. Look at the weekly topics you have covered to work out the broad area of law that is relevant to the case e.g. in contract law it could be ‘offer and acceptance’. Then, narrow it down to the specific issue i.e. whether the contract was validly accepted. It may be useful to also consult a textbook or legal commentary service to read some background about the issues involved.

    For example, to find out more about Employment law, you could consult National Workplace Relations (Thomson Reuters) available on Westlaw AU (Monash users), or the Australian Labour Law Reporter (CCH) available in the Industrial Law Library on CCH IntelliConnect (Monash users). To read about issues involved in Contract law, go to Carter on Contract on Lexis Advance (Monash users)

  2. Then state the issue succinctly. This can be in the form of a question or a statement, but should be specific, rather than too general. An issue should be broken down into smaller, multiple sub-issues and IRAC reasoning applied to each sub-issue.

For example: “Is the company liable in tort for the harm that has occurred to the plaintiff ?” or "The main issue is whether the NSW Police can arrest people solely for the purpose of questioning them" would be acceptable. Merely stating “Will the plaintiff win?” would not be acceptable.

The issue may mention party names and specific facts of the case. Be specific about the issue/s for each of the parties.

Remember: stating the factual problem i.e. ‘X purchased a mechanical toy that caught on fire and damaged their house’ is not the legal issue. The legal issue could be, for example, whether the person can make a claim under consumer law and receive compensation.

Example

Matthew, a 50-year old independent contractor from Victoria, has been engaged for some work by X Pty Ltd (a company). Matthew attends a number of staff meetings as well as a training course provided by the company.

Identify the issues

One of the legal issues in this scenario is whether Matthew is an employee of the company or working for them as an independent contractor.

Tips

  • An assignment usually covers one area of law but may involve a number of issues within that area. Refer to your class notes and reading guide.
  • Use the IRAC structure for each issue you identify.
  • Issues may emerge gradually as a result of your research and identification of applicable rules.