The UCD Law Review’s annual Arthur Cox Case Note Competition is back!
Winning entries from both 1st and 2nd year UCD undergraduates will earn a €150 prize and be published on our website. The competition is a great way to develop your legal writing and analysis skills while adding to your CV. The deadline for entries to be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org is Friday April 23rd 2021. Entry open to 1st and 2nd year BCL and BBL Undergraduates at University College Dublin. See our website and social media for more details and guidance on how to prepare your case note!
- 1000 word limit, excluding references.
- Footnotes should be formatted using OSCOLA Ireland.
- Case notes should be submitted in a word document via email to email@example.com, with the subject line: ‘Case Note Competition.’
- Please tell us your name, degree and year of study in the body of your email and be sure not to include your name on the attached word document.
Choosing a case:
- Look at topical cases or an area of law which is undergoing development.
- Does the case deviate from precedent or from the position accepted in other jurisdictions?
- Is there a case which has significant repercussions, maybe even beyond the legal sphere?
- Could this decision prompt interesting results in future cases?
- Was this the first case in a newly-legislated area?
Facts of the case
A brief overview of the facts of the case. This summary should be as succinct as possible. Aim to outline the facts which were relevant in the judgement rather than a full retelling of the case. Don’t forget: you’re summarising something people already know!
Decision of the court
Condense the judgements into the key decisions made and the relevant consequence for the parties. Highlight if this decision aligned with prior case law or set a new precedent. If multiple judges provided judgements, be sure to note the decision of each one.
Reason(s) decision was reached
The common law operates on a precedent system, whereby judges must explain their rationale for reaching a particular decision. A summary of these reasons is essential, especially in situations where judges have come to the same result using different reasons. Be sure to consider all judgements, including any dissenting judgements
Analysis of Decision
This is the most important part of the case note as it provides an opportunity to show off your legal analysis skills! Critical analysis can seem like an elusive term, so, to begin, consider;
- The logic & persuasiveness of the decision. Would you agree, explain why or why not?
- How the decision aligns with prior case law. Does it deviate from precedent entirely or just in some elements.
- The consequences of the decision. Assess the impact, if any, the decision had, or may have in the future, on this area of law.
- Are there any gaps in the judgement? Is there any points you think deserved more consideration or, alternatively, do you think the judgement focused too much on any one issue.
- Is there any external factors which influenced the decision, or which might be affected by the decision. For example, financial concerns, political tensions or cultural issues.
UCD Law Review’s Top Tips
It sounds simple, but read the case multiple times and be sure you have a clear understanding of the facts, the decision and the rationale for the judgement(s). Each time you read the case will help to develop your understanding and opinion of the judgement.
Research the area of law in which the decision falls to gain a better knowledge of why the decision is important. You can look to textbooks and academic commentary to help shape your perspective on the case. Think about if you agree with the ideas or opinions advanced by academics.
Try to avoid presenting an analysis which is one sided and fails to consider a competing point of view. An important legal skill is the ability to consider an alternate view and reason why the opinion you advance is worth preferring.
While the commentary and analysis advanced in the case note is important, poor spelling, grammar and presentation will not impress the reader. Be sure to reread your case note and take care in formatting your references. We recommend using size 12 Times New Roman, submitting a Word doc file and ask that you include no identifying details on the document.
If you have any questions regarding our annual Arthur Cox Case Note Competition that were not answered here, please reach out to us under ‘General Inquiries’ on our Contact page.