Contract Law – Question and Suggested Answer applying IRAC to help with EC4003 Final Assessment
When preparing for a law-based assessment here are a few pointers which students may find helpful.
You will be given case studies well in advance of the assessment to enable you to identify and research the relevant legal issues.
When analysing any law-based case study you may find it helpful to use the
IRAC process (which can usually be found in module booklets and online via weblearn/Blackboard.) It is not suggested that you use IRAC as a structure for your answers, but using it as an analytical tool may help you keep to the question and avoid missing important points which may be relevant to the question set.
1. I is for ISSUE
You should identify the issue or issues (for example: a dispute between the parties) raised by the facts of the case study.
2. R is for RULE
You should identify the legal rule or rules applicable to the particular issue or issues. This means you need to identify the relevant law that applies to the particular issue. You need to look for legislation (also known as
Statutes or Acts of Parliament), case law (i.e. previous decisions, such as Donoghue v Stevenson (1932)) and sometimes EU and international law as well.
3. A is for APPLY
You should apply the rule/rules to the facts of the case study (but without ‘re-telling the story’ or repeating at length the facts of the case study, which is a waste of word count and/or writing time, as both you and the marker have the facts of the case study in front of you.)
4. C is for CONCLUSION
Once you have identified the Issue and the Rule and Applied the Rule to the facts of the case study, you will be expected to give your conclusion. For a law-based assessment this often involves being asked to give advice to the parties. This should not be written in the style: “I think that” or “I believe that” or “You have a claim and you should do this.”
Legal advice should always be given impersonally (e.g. “applying the principles set out in section X of Y Act, it is clear that Joe Bloggs will be able to claim Z”)
The problem question and suggested answer below is intended to help you with the use of IRAC as you prepare for your final law assessment.
You may also find it useful to bear in mind the following points:
You should keep the structure of your answers (which should be based on known facts from the case study and on the law) clear and logical, and deal with one issue fully before moving to the next.
Do not leave out the basics. For example, if there is a question about implied terms in a contract, you should briefly cover the issue of whether there is a contract or not and explain the legal rules that lead you to your opinion, before tackling the implied terms which are at the heart of the question. (A useful technique is to forget that you are writing an answer for a tutor and think about how you might explain the issues and the law to a person who has no knowledge of the law.)
Make sure you identify and apply only the legal principles that are relevant to the question. (It is not uncommon for students simply to write down any law they can remember, whether or not it is relevant. The inclusion of such material in an answer can only bring your marks down.)
Be specific. For example, poor answers often refer to an entire Act in vague terms (e.g. “the Sale of Goods Act says that goods must correspond with description”. Good answers refer to the relevant section or sections of an Act
(e.g. “according to section 13 of the Sale of Goods Act 1979 goods must correspond with description”.)
Previously decided cases (collectively known as ‘case law’) are important because they establish or confirm the legal principles which guide judges and other lawyers in understanding the law. It is very important when using case law (i.e. cases already decided by the courts) not to concentrate on the facts of the case. You should explain the legal implications of the case…