Statement format

Posted on Sunday, 30th Aug, 2015 at 04:18:13 PM

1. Perfect spelling and grammar. If you do not have these skills and even if you do ALWAYS get at least one person to proof read your statement before submitting it. Spell checking is a must and do not use fancy legal terms or long words unless you are absolutely certain of their legal meaning and this may not be their common meaning. Any spelling mistakes or fundamental errors will persuade the judge immediately that the author is sloppy and amateurish regardless of the content.

2. Statements in family matters should be no longer than ten pages unless they involve long and complex expert evidence. Any longer than this and you run the risk of boring the judge. As harsh as it seems many judges cannot be bothered to read long winded heart breaking stories dressed up as statements if they do not drive to the point quick enough.

3. Good statements must link to a bundle of evidence by a process called pagination which we will discuss later. If there is no evidence or substance or if the statement does not refer directly to that evidence then it will have no weight and be afforded no merit.

4. All statements must refer to law both in the form of statutes or laws or Acts of Parliament by a process called citation. Citing something means quoting it. Just as with grammar and spelling your law MUST BE PERFECT as indeed must your citations of previous binding precedent cases. You must identify the precise statutory instrument you wish to apply. it is not enough to merely state 'under the Children Act blah blah blah'. You must state 'under s.4 of the Children Act 1989' to be precise as section three or five will have a wholly different relevance and you cannot rely on the judge to go and find the section that applies even though he probably knows it by heart.

5. All citations, legal references to Acts and foreign phrases should be italicised to distinguish them from the rest of the text. Thus we might write a phrase such as.. The letter of the 15th August by the respondent would appear prima facae to be in breach of Article 9of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1991 and also at variance with the ruling of Smith v Jones 1984 HOL 112 per LJ Brown.'

6. Always refer to parties by their names and not as he and she as this can be confusing. For example 'She took her from the contact centre.' Should read 'the mother took Lucy from the contact centre.' Judges should always be referred to by their title as His Honour or Her Honour although female judges are addressed directly as Ma'am. Similarly Law Lords should be referred to as His Lordship Justice Ward LJ or Her Ladyship Baroness Hale of Richmond for example.

7. Good statements should be divided into numbered paragraphs no longer than ten lines at the most. This makes them easier to refer to during hearings. Finding a reference on line two of para 7 is not hard but finding something on page 2 can be so help the reader. Pages must also be numbered. If your content starts to run on then simply recognise when to create a new paragraph. Statements without numbered paragraphs will frustrate the legal reader and again convince them that the author is sloppy and has no knowledge of juris prudence or court procedure. Remember your statement is in effect a tool or weapon to be used by an advocate who must be able to refer to it quickly and with confidence.

8. Quotations of what people have said my be indicated by single quote marks such as.... In his ruling on the case of Smith v Jones 1991 ECLW 2012 His Lordship Justice Jennings LJ specifically refers to the need for 'stringent checks'.

9. Specific phrases that drive a case may be highlighted in bold but this should be used sparingly. Large or repeated areas of bold will alarm the reader. Thus you might write 'Sir James Munby LJ President of the Family Division states in Re: A (A Child) 2015 that a child may only be removed from the family after applying the nothing else will do rule. This drives to the point that the case turns on the phrase nothing else will do that the actions of parties should be measured against this yard stick.

10. Good statements should answer the question that a judge might ask in deciding a case or address the tests that are associated with that subject. Thus in the case of the nothing else will do rule they should refer to facts that evince that other things could be done but were not.

1. Never use vulgarity or obscenity unless it is relevant to the case. In such circumstances highlight the fact that it is cited or quoted by using single quotation marks. 'I then received a letter from the father calling me a 'lazy fat cunt.'

2. Never attempt to slur anyone such as 'I then received a letter from the father but I didn't bother answering cos he does my head in. To be honest he's just a complete loser'

3. Never use slang or abbreviations such as phone text. Pls thx no prob and woteva are not acceptable.

4. Don't use capitals unless they are relevant to a chapter or section heading such as LIST OF EXHIBITS. Do not use them in instances like 'I refused to let the father have contact BECAUSE HE LETS ME DOWN EVERY SINGLE TIME.' This is simply unnecessary and will be taken and the written equivalent of shouting.

5. Never attempt to insert humour or comedy in a statement. Lawyers have sharp witty minds and enjoy humour as much as anyone else but not in statements.

6. Never submit a statement in a foreign language. if you lack the linguistic skills to convey your case in English then write it out in your mother tongue and get it translated by preferably a legal translator BEFORE you submit it.

7. Avoid over use of facts and not enough law. DO NOT recite every single fracas that ever happened because ost of them have no bearing on the case.

8. Do not submit hand written statements. Although this was certainly the case in days gone by the scribes that produced these statements had beautiful and legible script. If you lack the skills to type then by all means write it out but you can probably find a teenager who is keyboard smart and will type it up for you. Hand written statements on torn out pages of an exercise book will be regarded with horror by a Court.

9. Don't include any law or citations unless you are absolutely certain they are exact and true. False citations and law will lead to your statement being rejected and your cause failing.

10. Never submit a statement as soon as you have finished it. ALWAYS sleep on it at least one night and then read it again. Check it again and then check it again and then have someone else check it and then have someone else check it again after that. Once your statement is submitted you will not be able to amend or revise the content.

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