Understanding case notes and marker expectations
You have a case note assignment, but how do you write something of high quality when you’ve never read one, let alone written one? A case note is a document that provides a description of the facts and reasoning of the judgment, and an analysis of the judgment’s impact.
To get a feel for what you are writing, familiarise yourself with the genre. You can find case notes in:
- General legal journals, such as the Law Institute Journal
- Academic journals, such as the Monash University Law Review
- Subject specific journals, such as Current Issues in Criminal Justice (see this case note as an example)
Once you have seen a few case notes, you will have a feel for the conventions of writing case notes. You can then apply or adapt them as necessary when writing your assignment.
Terminology in your assignment instructions may vary from unit to unit. Use this activity to test your understanding of terminology regarding case notes.
Importantly, in a case note assignment, the job of the student is to convince the marker that they understand the case and the legal issues. This would normally mean referring relevant legal rules, both legislative and common law, and explaining what the ambiguity or legal issue was before the court.
When doing a case note assignment, it is important to understand your marker’s expectations. There are many ways to inform yourself about these: marking criteria or rubrics (if provided), your lecturer’s instructions in class and on Moodle, as well as Moodle discussion forums, among others. Take a look at the example assignment below.
Some assignments will be on recent cases with little to no commentary. Older cases may have more commentary available, and therefore require more research.
Remember that there is no one format for a case note, so your instructions and marker expectations will vary from unit to unit.