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Generally, a skeleton refers to the essential framework of any structure, buildings, the human
body, and even leaves have skeletons.
In Law, a skeleton argument refers to an outline consisting of essential legal and evidential
arguments the drafter of the skeleton argument intends to put across. Just as the human skeleton
provides support for the human body, a legal skeleton argument provides the framework of the
legal argument to be put forward in the case and acts as the supporting structure on which the full
argument will be established.
A skeleton argument should be a concise N! detailed argument" they should merely summarise
the core issues about the Law and evidence in the case.
#keleton arguments are always written and they present the writer$s basic case to the %ourt and
opposing side in a case.
#keleton arguments are not a substitute for oral arguments.
Why are skeleton arguments file!
#keleton arguments are filed for legal and administrative purposes.
Legal re&uirement' In (enya, skeleton arguments are provided for under the %ivil )rocedure
*ules +,-, rder -- which governs pre.trial directions and conferences. *ule + of that rder,
directs adherence to the pretrial &uestionnaire. /uestion +, of that &uestionnaire reads 0Are you
aware that you have an obligation to file and serve any skeleton argument to be used in the case
of list 3 days before the hearing date day?”
!his therefore reminds advocates to ensure that they have complied with the direction to submit
a skeleton argument.

n an administrative level' #keleton arguments are intended to identify both for the parties and
the %ourt those issues which are contentious and which the %ourt will be called upon to
deliberate and the Legal and other authorities to be relied upon in pursuit of the argument. In this
regard they prepare the %ourt and %ounsel for the main trial and arguments.
It is not a substitute for oral argument
When are skeleton arguments file!
#keleton arguments are usually filed at the pre.trial stage. !hey are used in both civil and
criminal litigation" from divorce proceedings, immigration matters, election petitions,
applications for 1udicial review to challenging procedural issues in criminal appeals.
Although they are compulsory, our research indicated that there are e2ceptions to this general
rule. In the 3(, from where our legal system has adopted %ommon Law and other principles,
there are some circumstances in which skeleton arguments can be omitted.
 4here the application does not warrant the filing of a skeleton argument because the
matter is brief and the issues are clear"
 4here it is impracticable to file skeleton arguments owing to the urgency of the matter"
 4hen the litigant is representing themselves. 5!hey are strongly advised to submit a
skeleton argument but can fail to do so with leave from the %ourt.6
 ther situations where the %ourt may direct.
Who files them!
#keleton arguments can be filed by either of the litigants 7 the plaintiff8appellant or the
defendant8respondent. !hey can also be filed by other parties who wish to make representations
at the hearing. 9or e2ample in the case of 1udicial review, other parties not directly litigant in the
matter may have an interest.
#keleton argument can be filed in response to the opposing side$s skeleton argument. 4hen a
plaintiff files their skeleton argument, the respondent files a reply skeleton argument.
"o# are they #ritten!
#keleton arguments are guided by legal procedural principles and policy re&uirements. !hese
guidelines dictate the format and content of skeleton arguments. In the 3(, the content and time
re&uirements vary slightly depending on the purpose of the skeleton argument and the %ourt. 9or
e2ample the specific re&uirements of a skeleton argument intended for an Appeal %ourt where
the appellant is appealing a criminal conviction, will vary slightly from one intended for a %ivil
%ourt in a 1udicial review hearing. Likewise the time lines will also differ. In (enya, the %ivil
*ules +,-, dictate : days prior to the %ourt hearing.
4e will look at guidelines directed by the #upreme %ourt of Northern Ireland and
Administrative %ourt guidelines of ;ngland and 4ales.
9orm and %ontent of #keleton Arguments 5should be in chronological order6
#keleton arguments must be typed and state'
 !he full title and record number of the proceedings"
 !he name of the party providing the skeleton argument"
 !he name of counsel appearing on behalf of that party 5this does not apply where the
litigant is acting in person"
 4here the points in the skeleton argument arise from portions of a transcript of evidence
or from police interviews, the relevant portion or portions of the transcript or police
 4here there are references to legislation, the relevant statute, article, section, regulation,
 4here there are references to authorities the proposition of law that the authority
demonstrates should be clearly stated. Authorities and, if appropriate, the part of the
1udgment that supports the proposition should be cited with reference to the particular
page number and 5where available6 paragraph reference for the passage in the case,
te2tbook or 1ournal
;ach skeleton argument should have the following schedules, where appropriate"
 A list of authorities$
o 9ull citations should be given 5including of unreported cases6, including page
numbers and, where available, paragraph reference.
o !he main authorities upon which a party is relying, especially those that counsel
definitely intends to cite to the court , should be listed first and differentiated from
those that may be relied upon. !he list number for these main authorities should
also be marked with an asterisk. !his applies to cases, te2tbooks, articles and
 A chronology rele%ant e%ents to be provided by the applicant.
o It will be assumed that this is agreed between the applicant and respondent unless
the skeleton argument states otherwise.
o In criminal appeals a list of the interviews being relied upon, set out in
chronological order. !hese references should include the page number in <ook of
Appeal, paragraph number
o In comple2 cases a list of the key persons in the case and their part in the case.
)rovision of Authorities for the %ourt
 4here reference is made to a 1ournal, te2tbook or a case which is not reported in any
official or authori=ed report a copy of the relevant passage in the 1ournal or te2tbook or of
the case should be lodged together with the skeleton argument
>elivery of #keleton Arguments
#ub1ect to any contrary direction by the court
 !he applicant shall lodge in the court and a copy to the respondent and any other party a
skeleton argument and all related documents at least ten working days before the date
fi2ed for the hearing"
 !he respondent shall lodge in the court and copy to the applicant and any other party a
skeleton argument and all related documents at least five working days before the date
fi2ed for hearing"
 Any other party shall lodge in the court and copy to all other parties a skeleton argument
and all related documents at least five working days before the date fi2ed for hearing"
 9our copies of the skeleton argument and related documents must be lodged with the
;lectronic %ommunication
 !he use of email reduces significantly the time re&uired for processing cases. #keleton
arguments, anne2es and copies of authorities and any other related documents should,
where possible, be submitted to the relevant court by email"
 4here the skeleton arguments anne2es and copies of related authorities and documents
are submitted electronically to the court and other parties the time scale for submission is
reduced by one working date"
 4here electronic communication is used in accordance with paragraph -+ there is no
need to also lodge hard copies as provided by paragraph -,. where it is not possible to
send copes of authorities by email and re&uisite number of copies shall be lodged in the
court on the same day that the emails are sent
A%antages of skeleton arguments
 #ave time" they give the %ourt and the opposing side a clear overview of what to e2pect
and focus the case on the contentious issues. !herefore research can be focused"
 Improve efficiency of proceedings" the Judge does not have to go through heaps of
paperwork to understand the argument and ?e8#he can concentrate their own note taking
on the important issues"
Disa%antages of skeleton arguments
 In (enya we do not have a computeri=ed system 7 3nlike the 3(, for e2ample, one
cannot send the 1udge and respondent the skeleton arguments by email to speed up time.
4e hope that our courts will consider agreeing to have these sent on email to the
respective registry and thereafter have the hard copy filed"
 A poor skeleton argument can scuttle the drafter$s case which is dire for the client and
may give rise to incompetence or misconduct allegations.
o !he %ivil )rocedure Act (Cap. +-) %ivil )rocedure *ules, +,-, *ules under
#ection @- 5+,-,6 A444B Available from
;C*3L;#C+,-,.pdf. Accessed ,E8,:8+,--
o ?er Fa1esty$s %ourt #ervice 5+,--6 A444B nformation on !keleton arguments
and Court hearings Available from http'88search.hmcourts.
-JscHhmcsJsmH,JmtH-JtoH,JhaH--@JlnHen. Accessed ,M8,:8+,--
o !he Northern Ireland %ourt #ervice 5+,,K6 "ractice #irection $%&''( !upreme
Court of )udicature of *orthern reland A444B Available from
http'88 www. &ourts . Accessed ,:88,:8+,--
o !he Finistry f Justice 5+,--6 "ractice #irections A444B Available from