Case Abstract : Summary Of Case Law

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Judgement Abstract / Case Summary : Judgments abstract can be also termed by many Indian Law Journals  the phrase " Head Note". This is nothing but basically a summary of important points that are in the judgments. On reading a Judgment abstract one should give an details abut the complete judgments. Judgments abstracts/ case summary  should enable a researcher to get the feel of the judgments without actually reading the complete judgments, that can be time taking. The outcome of the case and procedural disposition (i.e. reversed and remanded, affirmed, disposed, etc.) should form the last sentence of this part of the case brief. 

Case summary is a way of generrating a case brief in a systematic way in order to determine the most relevant facts,  its highlighted with the legal issues involved in the full text judgement, arguments from the opposite parties and contention wise brief discussion of the judgment.

Content of Abstract :Some of the important point that are considered in the judgments are the mail acts and section covers, some facts about the judgments and conclusion of the judgments.

What is Abstract  / Case Summary writing?

Judgment headnote writing is a method by which a judgment is presented in an organised way to facilitate in determining the most relevant facts, recognising the legal issues  involved, arguments and contentions of the parties with a concise discussion of the judgment and setting out the rationale behind the decision. A good headnote expresses the essence of the judgment accurately, briefly and comprehensively.

Drafting a Abstract /  Case Summary 
At LawHub, we believe that the best way to understand a case is to write a case summary . It clears all the stumbling blocks in the mind with the result being a clear understanding of the judgment which is always easy to remember.

Writing a case summary forces us to ask ourselves key questions and find the answers to the same through the entire process of writing the headnote. It helps us to develop a better grasp of the contents of the decision, learn the application of the legal principles, recall them quickly and make critical remarks.

Components of Case Summary

The case summary should be composed with a prime focus to clearly understanding the judgement, which is always easy to remember. The case summary

What are the various components of a case brief?

1. Title  : The title of the case tells you the names of the parties to the case. Usually, the party initiating a legal action i.e. plaintiff or, the party going for an appeal i.e. appellant appears first in the title of the case. 

2. Citation : Citation of the case helps the reader to find the full judgement.

2. Relevant Facts : Summarising the elaborative fact of the case is the most difficult part of writing a case brief. The most challenging task here is to determine precisely which facts can be excluded from the case brief. While there is no definite formula for the same, there are certain guidelines which can help us in this regard.

3. Issues : Issues Here you try to identify the issues or questions judges explicitly set apart to discuss and decide upon. This part of the case brief should be framed in terms of questions. The issues should never be fact-specific. Each issue should ideally be no longer than a sentence.

4. Contentions : Contentions Here you list out all the contentions raised by both the parties to prove their case. Corresponding contentions of opposing parties should be clubbed together. Holdings The decision or holding should be framed in the order of issues or contentions in separate paragraphs. The holding in each paragraph must be backed up by the rationale given by the Court and explain the application of the legal principles in the given set of facts. In this section you need not refer to all the previous judgements the court relies upon or dissents with. 

5. Issue or contention wise judgement with reasoning

6. Concurring/Dissenting Opinions (if any) : In case of bench of judges(more than one) the opions of any one judge may contradict the majority opinion. The dissenting opinion in such case should be part of the case summary. The dissenting opinion,  should not be very elaborative but short and crisp and as precise as possible. While some cases the opions of judges concur, but each can have different reason for the same outcome, it is also important to mention the concurring opinion of the judges.

7. Law Points/Rule of Law :  Law Points / Rule of Law Here you should try to list out all the relevant legal principles used in the judgement as its basis. You will be able to do it only when you have read the judgement in its entirety. The legal principles should be framed as a declarative statement and must not be fact-specific. 

8. Analysis/Conclusion : Analysis/Conclusion: Here you are required to analyse the significance of the case. Its relationship with similar cases decided in the past may be discussed, only if something new has come out in the present case. You can also discuss what the case reflects of the judiciary, their approach, problems (if any) with the judgement, its long term impact etc.  Following can be a common FAQ's that comes to mind while framing the Analysis/Conclusion of the case law.

  • Was all the issues and arguments or some were ignored by the court?
  • How well was is justified with its reasoning
  • How logical or consistent was the the reasoning? 
  • Whether the reasoning was exemplified with any similar cases in past?
  • How appropriate was law intrepreted?
  • Whether the final decision abides or contradicts with the existing law? 
  • Can there be an impact on existing law based on the descision?
  • Various policies implication of the descision?
  • In case of any omission, can this have impact on merit of the decision? 
  • Any alternative approach which could lead to more appropriate public policy in this area?
  • How appropriate was the final descision?

 Law Points/Rule of Law Here you should try to list out all the relevant legal principles used in the judgement as its basis. You will be able to do it only when you have read the judgement in its entirety.