Case Comment

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Purpose Case comments provide academic insight into judicial decisions. They are useful to, amongst others, practitioners and those working in the voluntary sector who may not have the time to read around a subject in depth; to other academics  studying in similar areas; to the judiciary to assist them in future judicial decision making and to students researching in the area.

Case comment may carry out one or more of the following:

  • Critically examine a judgement of the court to identify whether the court’s judgement is or is not, in the light of academic and other  opinion, in the author’s view, just. If it is deemed unjust then consider what the remedy might be?

This involves asking the questions “what is the law established by the judgement”, “is the result just?” or “what should the law be”? It may involve synthesising law with another discipline such as theology, philosophy, economics or sociology

  • Examine the context and background of the case and explore the various arguments presented by the parties. This type of comment can be predictive in nature where the case is still subject to appeal.

This involves explaining the legislative context, case law and factual background to the case. It can involve considering how the judgement further develops the law.

  • Explain the background and then the implications of a particular  case on an area of law and put forward suggestions for the future application of the case or for reform.

This involves understanding the wider implications of the judgement on other areas of law, or on other groups or individuals beyond the immediate parties to the action

  • Create a comparison between the case under discussion and other  similar cases.

This involves examining other cases that have been decided on the issue and highlighting and explaining similarities and differences

  • Present two or more points of view on issues arising in the case in order to come to a conclusion.

This involves examining what others with different views have written about the topic or considering the arguments presented by counsel for both sides in the case and reaching a conclusion by weighing these views

  • Create a dialogue with an existing commentary and add some additional original thought to the debate

Where a case comment already exists a subsequent author might choose to take issue with a comment that has been made and “reply” to the points made in the earlier comment and then add in some original thought of their own. This creates a useful dialogue between academics on points of current debate

In each case it is important to ensure that research is carried out to find what has been written about the case or the topic in academic literature. It is also important to add in an original insight concerning the effects or implications of the case. 

Whatever structure is chosen a case comment requires a clear structure and certain basic content. The content needs to include an introduction, a brief  explanation of the case to set the scene with further explanations brought into the body of the case comment as necessary, the discursive argument (analysis) and a conclusion drawing together the points made in the comment.

Case comments differ from longer articles that can be found in legal journals in that they tend to be focused on a particular case or limited group of cases. The explanation and analysis will be limited to the particular case or the issues arising from that case. They will be shorter – a journal article will be 5000 words or longer whereas a case comment will be 2000-3000 words.

THE INTRODUCTION:  A case comment should include a brief introduction. This can explain why the case comment is being written or indicate the importance of the case,


it might provide some context to indicate the tenor of the case comment,