01 Feb 2019
Practice Note on Synopsis of Arguments issued 1 February 2019
The President of the Court, the Hon. Justice Stephen Kós issued a Practice Note on the use of synopses of argument on 1 February 2019.
- A synopsis of argument must inform the Court and the other party of the party’s case. It must be filed within time.
- A synopsis should not be written as if it will be read aloud. The Court rarely if ever permits counsel to use hearing time in that way.
- A synopsis should be written in the expectation that:
(a) the Court will read it before the hearing;
(b) it may be used as a point of reference during the hearing, but will not usually be traversed in full there;
(c) the Court will not permit counsel to take a point at the hearing, or in a roadmap, that was not taken in the synopsis;
(d) the Court will use it after the hearing when reviewing the evidence and authorities;
(e) accordingly, it should be a complete and self-contained account of the party’s submissions.
- These requirements point to the structure and style of a good synopsis. It should:
(a) be as concise as the issues permit. Its objective is to assist the Court, and brevity and clarity aid understanding;
(b) define and confine the issues for decision;
(c) adopt a structure that is best suited to deciding those issues economically, using headings and numbered paragraphs for clarity;
(d) aim to tell the Court everything the Judges must know about those issues to decide the case, and no more;
(e) address the issues in a clear and economical way, eschewing rhetoric in favour of concise, clear and neutral prose;
(f) identify the central facts, usually in chronological sequence. Where a separate chronology of key dates is provided, the appellant’s should rarely exceed two pages and the respondent should normally confine itself to noting any disagreement;
(g) supply a glossary of technical terms or people involved where the Court may need it;
(h) use footnotes identifying, with pinpoint footnoted references, the salient references to evidence and authorities so the Court may use them for prereading and for subsequent judgment-writing;
(i) avoid extensive quotations from documents or evidence;
(j) avoid block quotations from authority. Block quotations often detract from an argument. They should be used only where the point cannot be better or more clearly stated. A synopsis must in any event state the specific proposition of law for which the authority stands and identify in a footnote the passages in the authority where it appears;
(k) eschew needless citation of authorities – one usually suffices - and evidence. Where there must be more than one footnoted reference to a point, the best reference should be highlighted or hyperlinked.
- The Court permits counsel to hand up an outline of oral argument at the hearing. That outline is:
(a) a useful means of structuring argument and referring the Court to salient parts of the synopsis or judgment below or record;
(b) not a substitute for the synopsis. It may not introduce any point not taken in the synopsis unless the Court grants leave to do so.
A copy of the summary the practice note can be found at the bottom of this page.