Compiling a Case Brief

A good case brief will reduce a piece of case law into a manageable, limited number of parts which allow you both to pull out the essential ingredients of a case at a glance, as well as providing a concise set of notes from which to prepare for an examination. What follows is a template for a case brief. Most cases will contain the elements listed and described in the template, and thus this format should be helpful in dealing with most cases you are assigned.

1. Name of Case & Citation: Give the case name, and a reference to where you obtained the case report, i.e., [1998] 1 S.C.R. 1128. 2. Type and Level of Case: Record the Court where the case is heard, i.e., ! 3. Facts: Using full sentences (essay-style), outline the facts of the case only as they relate to the issue(s) of importance in the case you are briefing. 4. Issue(s) on Appeal: Describe the main issue(s) before the court (those that are at the heart! of the case). You can usually find the issues by looking for ! ! 5. Judgement: You need to identify the judge writing the decision (and those concurring – agreeing – if noted) and specify the actual decision. The judgement will outline why a particular decision has been made, and the decision itself is usually found at the end of the judgement. 6. Dissenting Judgement: If there were judges who disagreed with the decision of the majority; you should also outline briefly the nature of the dissent, as a dissenting position at the level of the Supreme Court can be important!

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