Ethics & Professional Legal Practice Coursework

Word Limit: 2,000 words maximum
This word limit is imposed to encourage quality rather than quantity of words.
The word limit is the maximum number of words – I do not necessarily expect the writer to write an answer of this length. As a rough target it is advisable to aim for about 1750 words.
All words count in the total except:
• The title of the question when set out as an overall heading to the essay does not count;
• The Bibliography to an Essay does not count; and
• Footnotes do not count (but see note (i) below)


  1. (i) Footnotes should be used for citation purposes only, or for brief comments on the main body of the text. The word limit may NOT be circumvented by putting substantive parts of the argument in footnotes.
  2. (ii) The word limit cannot be circumvented by using poor grammar or note style. A standard form of prose is required and answers should not be written in “shorthand”.
    Essay Title: Please choose ONE of the essay titles attached in the PDF titled: Essay Title.
    Please make sure to:
    • state the law accurately;
    • explain the law; and
    • refer to wider issues which put legal rules in context.
    The writer should consider the following:
    Cite authority correctly
    Correct law is law based on the highest authority, whether the latest binding precedent, or legislation. Always check the date of any secondary source you use, such as a textbook, in case it is out of date. Check whether the leading cases on which you are relying have been superseded by later case-law.
    Use primary sources
    If you are referring to cases or statutes, you need to cite a law report, or a section of the statute. It is not acceptable to cite only a textbook which gives the author’s version of the law. If you are relying heavily on a case, or statute, make sure you read it and quote the ratio or provisions of the statute directly.
    Explain the law
    To show understanding as well as knowledge, you need to demonstrate understanding of the purpose of the law or how it applies to a particular factual situation.
    Please make sure to:
    • identify relevant facts and issues;
    • distinguish similar factual situations by reference to legal principle;
    • qualify and apply exceptions to legal principles; and
    • apply legal principles in an orderly way.
    You should consider the following issues:
    Analyse the question
    Say what issues you think the question or essay title presents, and how you are going to consider them, how you think they are related, and what order of treatment you will adopt.
    Analyse the relevant law
    As well as demonstrating your knowledge and understanding, you should aim to set out relevant law in a structured way.

Please make sure the writer:
• expressing an opinion based on interpretation of primary sources and study of secondary sources; and
• assimilating extensive factual and legal material, and presenting a reasoned personal view.
When writing the essay please make sure the writer engages with legal arguments and express their own view. They might do this by saying which of two commentators’ approaches they prefer.
When stating their own views they should do so by showing knowledge of the relevant authorities, and to consider opposing views. Arguments should be written in a reasoned, logical and dispassionate way, considering and replying to other views, rather than making unsupported statements.

    Please make sure the writer:
    • selects key relevant issues for research;
    • access, comprehend and use standard research tools (both hard copy and
    • use both electronic and hard copy research tools; and
    • devise a strategy for researching a topic.
    When writing the Coursework, use this research to show that you know the relevant primary sources.
    I do not expect the writer to cite everything relevant. All I expect is that they use a range of materials appropriately, both primary sources and secondary authority.
    Please make sure the writer:
    • writes clearly and makes their point effectively;
    • construct legal arguments precisely; and
    • use a style appropriate to the intended audience.
    The writer must use correct grammar and spelling, but, equally importantly, their reasoning must be well structured, their conclusions must follow from this, and they should not include irrelevant material.
    Further guidance and examples on coursework writing
  2. Structure, contents and layout of coursework
    The coursework should use:
    • headings, to organise the main body of the text clearly;
    • footnotes to enable the reader to check the authority of the propositions in
    the main text; and
    • a bibliography, detailing all sources referred to in the text and/or used in the research.

Referencing: The writer should use OSCOLA (the Oxford University Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities) for citing/referencing all material used in the Coursework.
Please use the following basic structure:
• List of contents
• Main body
• Bibliography
List of Contents
The list of contents should list any headings and sub-headings which the writer uses, together with the correct page numbers. The page numbers will have to be added after the coursework has been word-processed and the page numbers are known.
The list of contents is not included in the word limit.
Main body Headings
The writer should structure the coursework using headings, sub-headings and sub sub- headings etc, as appropriate using a consistent system for dividing headings from sub-headings from sub sub-headings etc.
Please ensure that:
 the headings reflect the content to which they refer;
 the headings are consistent in style, font and format, including “level”; and
 any numbering used is consistent.
For example:
Companies (Miscellaneous Reporting) Regulations
Introduction of employee ratio
Extension to large private companies

Institutional reports on impact of disclosure
Ability of Stakeholders to challenge Executive Pay

Words used in headings are included in the word limit.

The footnote element means that citations appear in the footnotes in the coursework as the writers work. Footnotes should be at the bottom of the relevant page, and not at the end of the main body of the essay. Most of the modern word- processing packages allow footnotes to be inserted automatically, with an option to place at the bottom of the relevant page. A footnote can be inserted in Microsoft Word by clicking on Insert Footnote from the References tab.
Below are some guidelines on how best to construct the footnotes:
• Capitalize major words
The writer should capitalize all major words in the title of all sources.
• Footnote placement
The writer should place a footnote at the end of a sentence, unless it needs to within the sentence for the sake of clarity, in which case they should place it directly after the word or phrase to which it relates.
• Punctuation
OSCOLA uses very little punctuation. The writer should not use full stops after abbreviations or initials in author’s names.
For example, use WLR not W.L.R or JG Fleming, not J.G.
• Full stops and semi-colons
o When citing a single source the writer should always place a full stop at the end of the foot note. If citing two or more than sources in the same footnote, separate them with a semi-colon ‘;’ and place a full stop at end of the last reference.
o Where more than one sources is cited please place them in a logical order, for example, if citing case reports place in order of authority or for other sources by chronology. Similarly if citing primary and secondary sources for a single proposition, put the primary sources before the secondary ones.
• Use of italics
Please make sure to Italicise party names and foreign words and phrases but not quotations. Always provide a translation immediately afterwards in brackets or in a footnote. Do not italicize words that are in common usage in legal English, such as obiter dicta and ratio decidendi.
• Use of brackets
Law reports may be references, the year may be enclosed in square [] or round brackets (). The majority of modern law reports along with neutral citations use square brackets.

Square brackets [] are used where the report series has no consecutive volume numbers and the year is essential for finding the correct volume.
For example: Donoghue v Stevenson is in the 1932 volume of the Appeal Cases, beginning at page 562, which is written [1932] AC 562.

Round brackets () are placed around the year where the legal citation has consecutive volume numbers and the year is not essential for finding the case.
For example: to find the report cited as (1983) 77 Cr App R 76 you don’t need the date because the volume number – 77 indicates where you will find the report.

Some examples of footnotes for cases, legislation and commentary
• Cases with a neutral citation (after 2001)
Case Name | [Year] | Court | Number, | ([Year]) | Volume | Abbreviation | First Page Campbell v MGM [2004] UKHL 22, [2004] 2 AC 457
• Cases without a neutral citation (before 2001)
Case Name | ([Year]) | Volume | Abbreviation | First Page | (Court)
Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] AC 562 (HL)
• Legislation
Acts: short title and year
Statutory Instruments: name, year and (after a comma) the SI number.
Act of Supremacy 1558
Shipping and Trading Interests (Protection) Act 1995
Penalties for Disorderly Behaviour (Amendment of Minimum Age) Order 2004, SI 2004/3166

• Books
author, | title | (additional information, | edition, | publisher | year)
Timothy Endicott, Administrative Law (OUP 2009)
Gareth Jones, Goff and Jones: The Law of Restitution (1st supp, 7th edn, Sweet & Maxwell 2009)
• Journals
author, | ‘title’ | [year] | journal name or abbreviation | first page of article
author, | ‘title’ | (year) | volume | journal name or abbreviation | first page of article
The year of publication should be in square brackets if it identifies the volume, in round brackets if there is a separate volume number:
Paul Craig, ‘Theory, “Pure Theory” and Values in Public Law’ [2005] PL 440
Alison L Young, ‘In Defence of Due Deference’ (2009) 72 MLR 554
• Online sources
author, | ‘title’ | (website, publication date) | | date accessed
Sarah Cole, ‘Virtual Friend Fires Employee’ (Naked Law, 1 May 2009) accessed 19 November 2009

If there is no author identified, and it is appropriate to cite an anonymous source, begin with the title in the usual way. If there is no date of publication on the website, give only the date of access.
Footnotes are not included in the word limit. Do not, however, place any analysis (including law, quotes, etc.) in the footnotes. Footnotes are for references only – they should not be used to bypass the word limit.
Where a quotation will occupy more than four lines it should be indented and typed using single line spacing. The writer should only use quotations when the quote supports their analysis. Do not use quotations if the point could be made more clearly without them. Try not to use quotations that are unnecessarily long.
Quotations are included in the word limit.
All works which the writer have actually read should be included in the bibliography, as well as any other sources used in the course of the research. References to other sources the writer have not read should be restricted to footnotes (see above).
The writer should use OSCOLA (the Oxford University Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities) for citing/referencing all material used in the coursework.
Everything listed in the footnotes should be listed in a comprehensive bibliography located at the end of the document. The bibliography should include all sources consulted as background reading some of which may not have been directly cited within a footnote.
The way that the writer list citations in a bibliography differs slightly to the way they construct a footnote. A bibliography consists of the following three separate sections:
• Table of cases
• Table of legislation
• Secondary sources

• Table of cases

In the Table of Cases the writer should not italicise case names in the bibliography e.g.
Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] AC 562 (HL)
Cases should be listed in alphabetical order of the first significant word: Cases identifying parties by initial only should be listed under the initial:
Re F (mental patient: sterilisation) becomes F (mental patient: sterilisation).
• Table of legislation
Tables of legislation and other tables, such as tables of international treaties and conventions, UN documents, official papers and policy documents, should follow the Table of Cases.
A table of legislation should list every statute cited in the work, with statutory instruments listed separately at the end of the list of statutes.
Legislation should be listed alphabetically with the first significant word of the title, not chronologically by date of enactment.
The writer should cite an Act by its short title and year in roman, using capitals for the major words, and without a comma before the year e.g.
Act of Supremacy 1558
Shipping and Trading Interests (Protection) Act 1995
• Secondary sources
Located after the primary sources, the bibliography contains full references to all the secondary sources that the writer have either consulted but not cited or cited directly. This section will contain a wide range of sources for example books, journals, newspaper articles, websites, email, letters etc.
All references in each section should be arranged alphabetically by author’s surname within each section. Where the author is not known, references should be listed at the beginning, in alphabetical order by the first major word of the title.
Items in bibliographies take the same form as all other citations in OSCOLA, with three exceptions:
o the author’s surname should precede his or her initial(s), with no comma separating them, but a comma after the final initial;
o only initials should be used, and not forenames; and
o the titles of unattributed works should be preceded by a double em- dash. Works should be arranged in alphabetical order of author surname, with unattributed works being listed at the beginning of the bibliography in alphabetical order of first major word of the title.
The bibliography is not included in the word limit.

  1. General Approach to Essay writing
  2. The writer should begin by analysing the question posed in the essay title. In the essay the writer should not repeat the terms of the question but should look at each term used in the question and explain what they think it means.
  3. The writer can then move on to analyse the relevant law.
    • Examples of analytical techniques:
    As well as demonstrating the writers knowledge and understanding, they should aim to set out relevant law in a structured way, distinguishing principles from exceptions, and showing how detailed rules are based on principles. As well as “taking apart” the relevant law, and examining each component, they should also show that they can explain the relationship of the parts, as an overall system.
    For example: if the writer were discussing whether the doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty is absolute, they might discuss separately a range of issues (eg grants of independence, the Act of Union, the supremacy of EU law and the effect of the Human Rights Act). To bring the material together they might consider which area posed the greatest threat to the absolute doctrine (EU law). This “ranking” of the weight of arguments is a useful way of concluding an essay.
    It may be appropriate to consider alternative interpretations, for example where the law is controversial they will find secondary sources, such as textbooks or journal articles, useful because they may give alternative interpretations. If it is necessary to their argument, they should cite the alternatives and give their view.
    The writer should also explain the purpose of the law. One way of doing this is to show what problem the particular rule is designed to deal with and how the rule provides a solution.
    For example: suppose that the writer was explaining the requirement that “dispositions” of equitable interests under trusts must be made in writing to satisfy the requirements of S.53(1)(c) LPA 1925. The writer might consider the standard explanation offered for the existence of this rule ie that it is designed to protect trustees from hidden oral transactions with equitable interests. They might then consider how satisfactory this is as an explanation of the rule since the section does not impose any obligation on the beneficiary, who disposes of his interest, to notify the trustees that he has done so.
    Alternatively the writer can show how a particular rule fits with other rules, like a piece in a jigsaw.
    For example:, suppose that the writer wished to discuss the 1925 property legislation and the way it dealt with third party interests in land. They might explain the different rules designed to protect third party interests, depending on whether the title to land is registered or unregistered land, contrast their interaction and their differences and discuss the extent to which they are effective.
    • Examples of analytical structures:
    When the writer is explaining the law they have a choice of approaches which may include the following:
    1) a policy-based approach
    For example: suppose that the writer was discussing the development of the rule of privity of contract and the exceptions to the rule, they might wish to show how legislation such as the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 has recognised the need to provide a right of action for parties who are not parties to a contract, but who stand to benefit under it.
    2) a systematic approach – showing how rules fit together as a system
    For example: suppose that you were discussing damages in contract law, you might wish to discuss the different authorities on the rules on remoteness of damage and how the different definitions reinforce each other.
    3) a historical approach – showing how the law has developed
    For example: suppose that you were discussing the way in which the law relating to estates and interests in land has developed – you would inevitably include the historical background to such development ie the way in which land was granted for services under the feudal system.
    4) a contextual approach – showing for example how law is based on social, economic, or political circumstances.
    For example: suppose that you were discussing the development of the test of certainty of objects for a discretionary trust – you might explain the way in which such trusts have become increasingly used in a commercial, as opposed to a family context, and the way this has necessitated a change in the test.
    It will be difficult to use all of these approaches in one essay, so the writer should choose the one that seems appropriate to them. Whichever approach the writer use, they are free to introduce non-legal materials (such as Government White Papers) which provide the relevant background.
    The essay should flow and the writer needs to build the argument by making each point follow on from the previous one. Keep referring back to the title to ensure that the arguments are relevant and that they do not drift off the point.
    • Supporting your analysis:
    The writer should demonstrate that they have selected their materials (cases, legislation, textbooks, journals) for their relevance to the question, and the argument they are putting forward. The writer should explain in the essay why the materials they are considering are relevant to their argument. Please present them in an orderly way – for example considering primary sources separately from secondary sources, for each issue. Do not be drawn into considering incidental points – only explain a case or statute so far as it is necessary to make the main point.
    For example, if the writer is discussing a statutory provision which provides that eight listed categories of persons may make an application and only two of those categories are relevant to their discussion, there is no need to cite all eight categories – they can say that the statute “provides, inter alia, that categories x and y” may apply.
    Having developed the arguments the writer should draw the essay to a conclusion which follows logically from their arguments. The job of the conclusion is to provide a final condensed version of the essay’s core argument and it must not contradict the main section of the essay.

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