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Litigation tactics

Gow v Harker: Martin Iller outlines the rules governing the way a judge delivers judgments

16 June 2006

A judge’s job is to make decisions that are just, balanced and reasoned. This is now prescribed by law. Under s 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998, a judge, as a “public authority”, must comply with the European Convention. Accordingly, when giving judgment he or she must:

(1) Identify the relevant issues.

(2) Make clear findings of fact on those issues with reasons for doing so.

(3) Give decisions on each of the identified issues leading to a final judgment.

As the Court of Appeal made clear in English v Emery Reimbold and Strick [2002] 1 WLR 2409, this is the “industry standard” required by Art 6. It goes without saying therefore that any litigator worth his or her salt is not going to get very far unless they can identify and articulate before the judge the strong points in their case. But, how do judges decide cases? Questions such as: “How do you size up the credibility of a witness?”; or “Are some types of evidence more persuasive than other...

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