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Legal methodology for students

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Inhouse legal
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General public
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civil law
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Paris I...

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case study
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  1. Introduction
  2. Legal reasoning & interpretation in the French legal system
  3. Practical case
  4. Record and comment of legal decision
  5. Juridical essay
  6. Note of synthesis

The practical case is an exercise also called legal consultation, or legal composition. The object of the practical case is to bring the legal solution to facts given and to state the consequences. For that, we applied the mechanism of the legal syllogism.
There is no question to state a personal opinion, but only to follow the steps of a method that have to be rigorously applied. The good knowledge of the lesson and of the applicable rule is imperative. Neither problem nor exercise can be solved without knowing the formulas and rules allowing that. The approach of resolution of a practical case breaks down into several stages, and as follows:

The qualification of the facts: This consists in qualifying the exposed facts, and to bring a legal qualification to each element or person involved into the situation exposed. Qualifying consists in designating persons or things according to the general category to which they belong in comparison with the situation to be taken into account (for example: M. A.? will be described as an owner, or a motorist, a consumer?). Only relevant facts must be taken into account. Facts are relevant in comparison with the applicable rule and the point of law.

Determination of the applicable rule: After having qualified the facts, we search then the whole applicable rules.

The application of the legal provision to the particular case: Lastly, the student must state the applicable solution, the consequences of the application of the legal provision to the facts. In the event of divergences of solutions in result of the interpretation of the legal provision, the most rational, logical and reasonable solution must be privileged. All the options garnered by the legal provision must be exposed. All legal possible actions must be determined for each person implied in the facts. Specifying the competent Court of jurisdiction and the statutory limitation of the action is necessary to.

Note: A chain of syllogisms can be considered. Indeed, between the qualified fact and the final solution, it can be necessary to pass by one or more other deductions operated themselves throught syllogism.
2/ The drafting of the practical case

The legal language is not the current language, and it uses a precise and specific terminology for each element. The common character of this terminology allow to classify the elements among legal qualifications. Certain terms have, in their usual meaning, a very different signification from their legal definition. A legal term can comprise several different meanings according to the matter or the field in which it is employed.

For the composition of the practical case, the drafting should be simple, concise and presenting a rigorous reasoning.

[...] Presentation of the commentary The four elements above related, must be organised in a plan as following: I The principle applied and its environnement Context of the decision: How was the law before the decision? What is the legal field of the decision? What interests and issues are involved? The legal context in which the decision is given? The principle: In this part, enonciate, expose the legal rule used by the judge. What legal principle is applied, what rule must be retained from that decision? What this rule signifies? Nota: The of the part I is the most important part of the redaction. [...]


[...] in the other hand . After enouncing the legal issue, the plan of the commentary must be announced, in a and a II The commentary of the decision / Search and organisation of the ideas The principle ideas and comments that can be deducted from the decision are somtimes evident. That's the case when the decision enounce a double principle and where each of them is assorted of an exception. In this case the first part of the commentary would be consacrated to the first principle, and the second part to the second one. [...]


[...] In this exercice, the corrector gives a bsuject contained in a sentence, and many documents, that may be a legal decision, a press article, a note af a notable author . Each extract, each document will contain an idea dealing, as it is, directly or mediatly with the matter of the subject, bring an apport to the synthesis. The whole ideas deducted from the extracts of texts must be organised in a plan so to give an answer to the submitted subject The rules of the composition of a note of synthesis No personnal opinion. No personnal reflexion or deduction that is not exposed in the documents. [...]


[...] The syllogism is thus divided into three parts. There is, at first, the minor which is the fact to treat, after then there is the major which is the legal provision, and then finally the resultant, which is the application of the rule (legal provision) to the fact. The result is deduced from the ratio between the minor and the major, and constitute the conclusion or the judgment. The judge, in his decision, admits or rejects the application of the legal rule called upon to the fact concerned. [...]


[...] - 3 - The application of the legal provision to the particular case: Lastly, the student must state the applicable solution, the consequences of the application of the legal provision to the facts. In the event of divergences of solutions in result of the interpretation of the legal provision, the most rational, logical and reasonable solution must be privileged. All the options garnered by the legal provision must be exposed. All legal possible actions must be determined for each person implied in the facts. [...]

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