CLEARER JUDGMENT WRITING - SEVEN STEPS



INTRODUCTION

Judgment writing is a skill that can be learned, practised, improved and refined. A well- structured judgment considered clarity and conciseness, and helps ensure that the reasoning process is complete. But how do judicial decide what to include and how best to express it? In this essay, there were seven distinct steps provide. These seven steps provide a framework for the content and structure of clear and transparent judgment.


Judge must give reasons. It is about the reason-giving process itself, in particular in written form. Judgment writing is more an art than a science. It can be learned, practised, improved and refined, and many judges welcome the opportunity to their writing skills, judgment is, after all, the product of their judicial endeavour. There is every motivation for judges to communicate well. Firstly, the parties need to litigation need to understand the result and the reasons for it. Secondly, clear, well- written decision are integral to the common law and the development of precedent through case law. Our seven steps transverse the two main components of clear judgment writing the structure and the content. The judgment should flow logically and in an organised manner from the introduction to the conclusion.


STEP-1 START BEFORE THE BEGINNING

The judgment writing process starts the end of the case. In fact, it should start before the case begins. A great deal depends on the preparation for the case, which includes reading court documents (pleading, affidavits, Written Statement) to identify the contended issues.


In many courts, written outlines of arguments, openings, chronologies, statement of agreed facts, flowcharts or other documents must be filed before the trial begins. Good advocates will generally do that of their own accord, striving to present the material sufficiently and concisely to provide at least the cornerstone of a judgment favourable to their case. The judge’s note-taking method is an integral part of judgment writing. In this regard, it may also be helpful to use topic headings, in a contrasting colour, in the course of noting the evidence, judges who use electronics transcript and software.


STEP-2 USE THE FIRST PAGE

The beginning of the judgment should be concise and by the unnecessary detail, such as they try to set the scene simply and clearly, as a prelude to any further or complex description or analysis of the case. The judgment should not have to shift through the judgment to find them. The judgment should readily disclose where it is heading and any relevant background. As an essential ingredient of good communication should be interesting.


STEP-3 DEAL WITH HISTORY AND THE FACTS

Judgment have traditionally begun with a description of the litigation to date, including a recitation of the pleadings. This makes for heavy reading and should not be included unless it is essential to an understanding of the issues decided. Sometimes it will be necessary to recite a history of the litigation or a narrative of the facts, but mostly it will not. The facts may be discussed in at least three parts of the judgment:

1- In the introduction, to identify issues or to add context or colour.

2- As part of brief general narrative early in the judgment to establish time, place or order of event.

3- Including credibility, in deciding the issues of facts or laws.


STEP-4 SET OUT THE LAW

It is essential for the judge to identify and set out the legal principles applied in arriving at the decision. There is generally no need for a lengthy dissertation in a first instance judgment, although there will be occasions in superior trial courts when judgment should contain a more expansive statement of law. Sometimes the formation of the question of law will be involved in, or overlapped by, the formulation of the question should be chosen carefully .only so much of it as expresses the proposition in question should be quoted. The manner of citing authorities for legal principles is a choice made by the judgment writer, and may depend on whether the judge’s court has adopted particular judgment writing guidelines or protocols.


STEP-5 STATE THE CONCLUSION

As the beginning of the judgment introduces the subject matter, the conclusion should resolve each of the issues identified at the start. The ending should contain no new material, whether facts or legal which has not previously been discussed. Some judges choose to announce the result at the start of the judgment. Others, perhaps the majority, announce their decision at the end. Those who favour stating the decision at the beginning, justify doing so to ease the tension for those with an interest in the outcome of the case.


STEP-6 CHOOSE AN APPROPRIATE STYLE-

Use plain language- judgment should be easy to read. The use of plains, everyday language helps to achieve this. Unless there is a need for it, technical language and legal jargon should be avoided.

Simplify paragraph and sentence structure and composition – in composing judgment careful through should be given to both paragraph and sentences structure and composition.

Paragraph can also vary in length, from as short as one Sentences, too many sentences.

Using paragraph heading and sub-headings- it is increasingly common to see a numbered paragraph in judgments, and for heading and sub-heading to be used. Using heading or sub-headings is also helpful to those seeking to find a particular part of a judgment. Use the active rather than passive voice.

Avoid Latin expressions, redundancy and legalese- although a judgment is a legal decision, resorting to formal language, including Latin phrases or expressions, should be avoided, unless there is a good reason to use such language or phrases. Some Latin expressions have become part of everyday language and their use cannot be avoided, forex- affidavit, quorum, etc. by writing clearly and concisely, the subject matter being discussed should be apparent, without resort to these expressions. It is tempting to explain the reasons for a decision by references to the complicated nature of the proceeding or the issues to be resolved. Judges must carefully consider the evidence and the competing submissions made on behalf of the parties.


STEP-7 EDIT THE JUDGMENT

It is commonly said that there is no such thing a good writer, there is only good rewriting. Preparing a draft judgment is hard work. But the hardest work begins when the draft judgment is finished. Good editing ensures that a judgment is lucid, thorough, coherent, concise and has transparent reasoning. It identifies flaws, such as the use of discriminatory language. Of course, time is a factor in determining how much editing is possible. But even when a decision must be delivered urgently, some editing is still required, especially to ensure that the decision covers all the issues raised for determination .the more a judgment is edited or revised, better it will be, within reason.


CONCLUSION

For most judges, preparing judgments is the most demanding, challenging and even part of judicial life. But with the clarity that flows from sound structure and style, the writing process is likely to be more streamlined and judgments are likely to be shorter. For time-poor judges, with the pressure of case upon case, it is an attractive spin-off that judgments which are easier to read are likely to be easier to write.

Source - http://mja.gov.in/Site/Upload/GR/7Steps_2ClearerJudgmentWriting.pdf

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