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Again, Court Makes Warning about the risks of Bad Skeleton Arguments

  • Datalaw Admin
  • Feb 4, 2019
  • 0 comment(s)

A judge from a Court of Appeal has made a strict warning about Bad Skeleton Arguments to parties to expect rough treatment if they keep disturbing the courts with lengthy and unreasonable submissions.

Lord Justice Hickinbottom has utilized the judgment in Harverye VS. The Secretary of State for the Home Department to reinforced his call for all lawyers to flashback at what governs documents that are submitted for appeal hearings.

In the case, an appeal raised by a Zimbabwe dweller against his order on deportation was given dismissal, as the court said that there was a material change in circumstances and the case had no concrete holdings.

But, according to Lord Justice Hickinbottom LJ, a 'crucial and irrelevant' issue went ‘missing in the sheets of paper’ that contained important information about the appeal.

The judge made mentioned that it would have been a lot easier if the secretary of state had pointed out in the notice of decision what the sudden material change of circumstance was all about. Instead, the court went through all that time and effort on a fruitless issue that we all knew was never going to end successfully.

But the judge did say that lawyers are also to blame, and he stressed the grounds of appeal, oral submission and skeleton argument in oral advocacy. According to the judge, lawyers should never draft a skeleton argument.

‘The argument can only flow from the grounds of appeal, as this is the well from which all arguments must flow’ the judge added. ‘The reason for a decision to be unjust and incorrect should not in any way be added to the grounds but should only remain to the skeleton argument.’

Hickinbottom LJ, the Lord judge again, said that in the case where a skeleton argument fails to comply with the set-out requirements of the Civil Procedure Rules, it must be quickly returned to its original author by the Civil Appeals Office and it ultimately costs for drafting it highly prohibited. He then added by warning about skeleton arguments and skeleton in advocacy.

’In areas where there are failures to comply with such crucial, mandatory procedural laws, the courts have many different punishments (sanctions) which include costs orders; and all these sanctions are at their command,’ he then added.

Using his last year judgment in Hickey as a reference, the judge, Hickinbottom LJ, said that compliance with the laws would help to ensure that appeal hearing are well focused on and can have all the right resources that they need properly devoted to them.

In Hickey, a judgment that was made last April, the Lord judge, Hickinbottom LJ pointed out that where an appellant has important changes to the major grounds of appeal from where he has obtained proper permission to plead but the needed application has not been made, or there isn’t any substantial prompt application to be amended, he ‘does not expect the appeal court to be considerate’. 

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