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Answering Hypos – A Basic Template

IcRAC: Issue, Conclusion, Rule, Application, Conclusion

Step 1: Pinpoint the Issues

Generally state the parties, main cause of action and its elements:

Eg. The issue presented is whether Lily can hold Walter liable in the tort of battery. To succeed in a claiming of battery, the P must prove that there must be an intentional and direct act by the D which causes some undesired physical contact with the P.

Pinpoint the particular elements raised by the question (if any):

Eg. In particular, the specific issue raised by the present facts is whether the requirements of intention and directness under the tort of battery are satisfied. Eg. The specific issue to be addressed in this case is whether Jasper can raise the defence of necessity/best interests of the patient. Eg. The specific issue raised is whether detention that is initially lawful can become tortious subsequently as false imprisonment.

Step 2: Offer your conclusion to answer the call of the question

Answer the specific issue and the main issue:

Eg. The D will be liable/will not be liable under the tort of battery because the requirements of intention and directness are not made out.

Step 3: State succinctly what Rule you are applying to resolve each issue

Extract a current and general principle of law from the relevant cases. Cite that current proposition of law for each of the specific issues raised and the statute/case authority relied upon:

Eg. To succeed in a claim for false imprisonment, the defendant need not be aware of the restraint: Murray v Ministry of Defence. Eg. The defence of best interests of the patient is inapplicable when an adult is of sound mind and she is entitled to refuse medical treatment, even if it would save her life: St George’s Healthcare Trust. Eg. The cases of Robinson v Balmain New Ferry and Herd v Weardale Steel suggest that consent to detention once given cannot be revoked so an action in false imprisonment would not lie. Eg. In Wainwright v Home Office, Lord Hoffmann held that in order for the defendant to be liable under the rule in Wilkinson v Downton, he must have intended to cause the harm suffered by the plaintiff. Eg. In Malcomson v Mehta, Lee JC held that harassment was a course of conduct by a person, whether by words or action, directly or through third parties, sufficiently repetitive in nature as would cause, and which he ought

reasonably know would cause, worry, emotional distress or annoyance to another person.

Step 4: Application of law to facts presented in the question

Eg. Applying this rule to our facts, D is not liable in harassment because his conduct of making a nuisance call to the police was a mere one-off incident which does not rise to the level of “sufficient repetition”.

Next, draw parallels or distinguish facts of relevant cases. Say what other facts you would need to establish liability (if any).

Eg. The conduct of the D in this case is similar to that of the case in Tuberville v Savage. In that case, the defendant put his hand on his sword and said “if it were not assize time, I would not take such language from you.” The words of the D in the present case were “I ought to slap your face for that!” and like the words used in Tuberville v Savage it negatived any intention on the part of the D for the P to apprehend the battery.

Eg. In Re T, the court placed emphasis on the fact that the patient’s refusal of blood transfusion was made under the influence of her mother and held the hospital not liable in battery for performing the blood transfusion in an emergency. In the present case, P’s clear intent to refuse any form of blood transfusion under any circumstances was unequivocally stated on her card. Unless it can be shown that the P made the decision when she was permanently or temporarily incapacitated or that the P was influenced by anyone, the P was entitled to refuse medical treatment and any blood transfusion done without her consent would constitute a battery.

Next, criticise the proposition of law (if any), apply the alternative proposition of law (if any) and state the conclusion that will be reached if another proposition of law is applied.

Eg. Latter v Braddell is unlikely to be applied by the courts today because the courts now recognise economic duress to be a valid vitiating factor. Accordingly, it is submitted that P has a valid case in battery because she was worried that she may lose her livelihood if she did not undergo the physical examination.

Eg. Robinson v Balmain New Ferry and Herd v Weardale Steel are unlikely to be applied in today’s context since as a matter of contract law, the courts no longer view consent as being irrevocable and generally does not permit deprivation of liberty to enforce a debt or any contractual obligation. It is therefore submitted that these cases would not be followed today and the P will succeed in her claim for false imprisonment against the D.

Eg. Although the UK has since followed the majority opinion of Lord Denning in Letang v Cooper and appears not to recognise an action in negligent false imprisonment, the Australian courts have allowed a plaintiff to sue in negligent false imprisonment.

If you are advising a particular client, suggest ways in which your client may be able to succeed, eg by stating what other facts are needed to meet the elements of the tort, by stating which proposition of law is preferable to the client’s position and explaining how you can persuade the Singapore court to adopt that proposition of law, etc.

Eg. It is therefore difficult to hold the D liable in the tort of harassment, unless it is shown through additional facts that the D has made not just one but many calls and sent many letters to the P. Eg. Despite the current English view that negligent false imprisonment may not be a valid cause of action, it can be argued on behalf of the P that there are cogent reasons why the Singapore court should recognise such a cause of action.

Step 5: Restating your Conclusion

Make sure it is phrased to answer the call of the question. Tweak your answer to match what you are asked to do and the role you are playing.