Assessing Your Results Paul Dawson
I. Introduction <ul><li>Knowing where to stop… </li></ul>
What is your purpose? <ul><li>Note up a case or statute </li></ul><ul><li>Find a specific fact pattern </li></ul><ul><li>P...
What sources have you used? <ul><li>Canadian Abridgement </li></ul><ul><li>Electronic databases </li></ul><ul><li>Textbook...
Success… <ul><li>Fig.1:  A strong precedent </li></ul>
…and its alternatives <ul><li>Fig. 2 :  Not a good precedent. </li></ul>Image courtesy of “Best Collection of Webimages an...
What is a useful case? <ul><li>1. Authoritative and binding statement of the law. </li></ul><ul><li>2. Supports the case y...
This paper will cover… <ul><li>Assessing a case </li></ul><ul><li>Stare decisis </li></ul><ul><li>Escaping binding precede...
II. Kicking the tires
A. Form <ul><li>What level of Court?  What jurisdiction? </li></ul><ul><li>Too long or short?  May be a narrow precedent. ...
Form (cont.) <ul><li>Search for a key word or case name. </li></ul><ul><li>Use table of contents, if present. </li></ul><u...
Substance <ul><li>What issues were before the Court? </li></ul><ul><li>Is it a trial judgment, or interlocutory? </li></ul...
Substance (cont.) <ul><li>Identify the leading cases – are they present? </li></ul><ul><li>Make tree, taxonomy, or table t...
Don’t forget… <ul><li>Cases are like popcorn – addictive, but not necessarily nutritious. </li></ul><ul><li>Remember your ...
III.  Stare Decisis <ul><li>Is your case binding, or persuasive? </li></ul>
Stare decisis  balances: <ul><li>Certainty </li></ul><ul><li>Stability </li></ul><ul><li>Predictability </li></ul><ul><li>...
Vertical  stare decisis   <ul><li>Lower Courts bound by higher courts in the same jurisdiction </li></ul><ul><li>Courts no...
Vertical  stare decisis   ( per  Master Funduk) Fig .  3 : Court of Appeal Fig .  4 :  Supreme Court Images courtesy of Ch...
Horizontal  stare decisis <ul><li>Courts generally follow their own decisions. </li></ul><ul><li>Procedural requirements f...
Hansard Spruce Mills <ul><li>Leading case on horizontal  stare decisis  in BC </li></ul><ul><li>Should follow precedent un...
<ul><li>Escaping Binding Precedents Legal Reasoning Toolkit </li></ul>
a. Check for subsequent treatment. <ul><li>Has the case been overturned? </li></ul><ul><li>Can be explicit or implicit. </...
b. Redefine  ratio <ul><li>Frame the  ratio  more or less broadly. </li></ul><ul><li>Question of emphasis. </li></ul>Case ...
c. Alternate threads within the case <ul><li>Obiter  – may be binding if a considered statement of law by appellate court....
d. Distinguish your case <ul><li>Restrict the case to its facts, or show that yours are different. </li></ul>Case “A” Fact...
e. Find parallel stream of authority <ul><li>Is there an equally binding but contradictory case, or stream of cases, that ...
V.  Using Outside Cases Images courtesy Christine’s Free Bird Clipart
Outside cases are… <ul><li>Never binding in British Columbia </li></ul><ul><li>Can be persuasive if there is : </li></ul><...
Be careful <ul><li>Common law diverging  </li></ul><ul><li>Is the case still good law at home? </li></ul><ul><li>If not, m...
Consider: <ul><li>What level of Court? </li></ul><ul><li>Well-known judge? </li></ul><ul><li>Some Canadian courts more per...
VI. Conclusion <ul><li>You can’t follow every lead </li></ul><ul><li>Know when to stop </li></ul><ul><li>Good luck! </li><...
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Assessing Your Results

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Presented at Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia workshop, "Legal Research", December 2004, to accompany paper of the same name.

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  • Assessing Your Results

    1. 1. Assessing Your Results Paul Dawson
    2. 2. I. Introduction <ul><li>Knowing where to stop… </li></ul>
    3. 3. What is your purpose? <ul><li>Note up a case or statute </li></ul><ul><li>Find a specific fact pattern </li></ul><ul><li>Provide full summary of law </li></ul>Photo courtesy of Episteme.com
    4. 4. What sources have you used? <ul><li>Canadian Abridgement </li></ul><ul><li>Electronic databases </li></ul><ul><li>Textbooks </li></ul><ul><li>Reporter Series </li></ul><ul><li>Journals </li></ul><ul><li>Internet </li></ul>
    5. 5. Success… <ul><li>Fig.1: A strong precedent </li></ul>
    6. 6. …and its alternatives <ul><li>Fig. 2 : Not a good precedent. </li></ul>Image courtesy of “Best Collection of Webimages and Clipart”
    7. 7. What is a useful case? <ul><li>1. Authoritative and binding statement of the law. </li></ul><ul><li>2. Supports the case you want to make. </li></ul>
    8. 8. This paper will cover… <ul><li>Assessing a case </li></ul><ul><li>Stare decisis </li></ul><ul><li>Escaping binding precedents </li></ul><ul><li>Using out-of-province authorities </li></ul>
    9. 9. II. Kicking the tires
    10. 10. A. Form <ul><li>What level of Court? What jurisdiction? </li></ul><ul><li>Too long or short? May be a narrow precedent. </li></ul><ul><li>How much law cited? </li></ul>
    11. 11. Form (cont.) <ul><li>Search for a key word or case name. </li></ul><ul><li>Use table of contents, if present. </li></ul><ul><li>Use Quickcite references to locate key cases. </li></ul>
    12. 12. Substance <ul><li>What issues were before the Court? </li></ul><ul><li>Is it a trial judgment, or interlocutory? </li></ul><ul><li>Does the result turn on law or facts? </li></ul><ul><li>Is it new law, or just repetition? </li></ul>
    13. 13. Substance (cont.) <ul><li>Identify the leading cases – are they present? </li></ul><ul><li>Make tree, taxonomy, or table to keep track of key facts – and outcome. </li></ul><ul><li>Record the results – how do the cases relate to your purpose? </li></ul>
    14. 14. Don’t forget… <ul><li>Cases are like popcorn – addictive, but not necessarily nutritious. </li></ul><ul><li>Remember your purpose, and your client. </li></ul>
    15. 15. III. Stare Decisis <ul><li>Is your case binding, or persuasive? </li></ul>
    16. 16. Stare decisis balances: <ul><li>Certainty </li></ul><ul><li>Stability </li></ul><ul><li>Predictability </li></ul><ul><li>Adaptability </li></ul><ul><li>Justice </li></ul><ul><li>Correction of error </li></ul>
    17. 17. Vertical stare decisis <ul><li>Lower Courts bound by higher courts in the same jurisdiction </li></ul><ul><li>Courts not bound by courts from other jurisdictions </li></ul><ul><li>Masters and Registrars bound by Judges, but not vice versa </li></ul>
    18. 18. Vertical stare decisis ( per Master Funduk) Fig . 3 : Court of Appeal Fig . 4 : Supreme Court Images courtesy of Christines’ Free Bird Clipart
    19. 19. Horizontal stare decisis <ul><li>Courts generally follow their own decisions. </li></ul><ul><li>Procedural requirements for challenging appeal decisions – 5 member panel. </li></ul><ul><li>SCC will change only “with restraint”. </li></ul>
    20. 20. Hansard Spruce Mills <ul><li>Leading case on horizontal stare decisis in BC </li></ul><ul><li>Should follow precedent unless: </li></ul><ul><li>It is affected by subsequent decisions </li></ul><ul><li>Binding authority not considered </li></ul><ul><li>Made without full argument </li></ul><ul><li>Palpably wrong </li></ul>
    21. 21. <ul><li>Escaping Binding Precedents Legal Reasoning Toolkit </li></ul>
    22. 22. a. Check for subsequent treatment. <ul><li>Has the case been overturned? </li></ul><ul><li>Can be explicit or implicit. </li></ul>CASE “A” CASE “B”
    23. 23. b. Redefine ratio <ul><li>Frame the ratio more or less broadly. </li></ul><ul><li>Question of emphasis. </li></ul>Case “A” Case “A”
    24. 24. c. Alternate threads within the case <ul><li>Obiter – may be binding if a considered statement of law by appellate court. </li></ul><ul><li>Dissents – not binding, but often helpful. </li></ul>Case “A” (Obiter) Dissent Case “A”
    25. 25. d. Distinguish your case <ul><li>Restrict the case to its facts, or show that yours are different. </li></ul>Case “A” Facts 1,2,3,4 Your Case Facts 1,2,5,6
    26. 26. e. Find parallel stream of authority <ul><li>Is there an equally binding but contradictory case, or stream of cases, that supports you? </li></ul>Case “A” Your Case Case “B”
    27. 27. V. Using Outside Cases Images courtesy Christine’s Free Bird Clipart
    28. 28. Outside cases are… <ul><li>Never binding in British Columbia </li></ul><ul><li>Can be persuasive if there is : </li></ul><ul><li>No local precedent </li></ul><ul><li>Common statutory language </li></ul><ul><li>Common regulatory scheme </li></ul><ul><li>Common contract </li></ul>
    29. 29. Be careful <ul><li>Common law diverging </li></ul><ul><li>Is the case still good law at home? </li></ul><ul><li>If not, might weaken value here </li></ul>
    30. 30. Consider: <ul><li>What level of Court? </li></ul><ul><li>Well-known judge? </li></ul><ul><li>Some Canadian courts more persuasive than others </li></ul><ul><li>Are facts especially close? </li></ul><ul><li>Does it draw on British Columbia law? </li></ul>
    31. 31. VI. Conclusion <ul><li>You can’t follow every lead </li></ul><ul><li>Know when to stop </li></ul><ul><li>Good luck! </li></ul>

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