In an insightful and engrossing session, Akhil Sibal, Senior Advocate of Su

In an insightful and engrossing session, Akhil Sibal, Senior Advocate of Supreme Court, discussed his approach towards dealing with case briefs and structuring arguments in court.

He was talking at a webinar organized by R&R Law Chambers on the topic ‘Mastering Briefs & Structuring Arguments’. The session lasting for almost one and half hours was moderated by Rohan Batra and Reena Choudhary, Partners at R&R Law Chambers.

Key takeaways from the session :

While clarifying that he has no straight-jacket formula when it comes to structuring arguments, he said that he followed a general pattern with respect to structuring arguments in court.

If there are preliminary objections, they would be raised at the beginning itself. As regards merits, the attempt would be to put across the best points as quickly as possible, and avoid detailed narration of facts.

“My starting point is not to start with the facts. I don’t want the judge to get impatient wondering what the argument is. The sooner the judge knows what the argument is, the sooner she can start thinking about it. Then the facts as you place them will have a context. De hors the argument, the judge cannot appreciate why you are focusing on certain facts and not others. So I try to make the point at the outset and the detailing should come after”,he said about his approach in higher courts.

This approach, he said, makes the arguments more cohesive.
Make the point, show the relevant facts, and support it with the relevant law – he described his pattern.

Think in terms of propositions of fact and law

He said that it was important to think in terms of “propositions of facts and law”.

“Fact is a statement of what happened. Proposition of fact is a factual inference that you wish to derive from the fact; it is the point you wish to make with respect to a fact. It is a fact bundled with an argument”, he explained.

Stating propositions of facts is more effective in getting the point across, than mere narration of facts.

Opening submissions

He said that his preferred style was to get the judge thinking immediately. Start with points that will grab the judge’s interest.

“You will have to pique interest. You need a big picture beginning. A trailer to captivate the attention of the judge. Remember, the judge might have also read the brief and might have come with pre-conceived notions. So, you need to think of something that will appeal to the judicial mind and judicial conscience. For that, you need to think from the shoes of the judge”,

He added that it was not his personal style to make an overly dramatic beginning, but a focused and pointed one.

“Some lawyers are theatrical. That can also yield results. It is a matter of personal style”.

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