Legal Problem Solving “IRAC”

Legal Problem Solving Guidelines

A suggested technique for legal problem solving

The legal problem solving model that is most commonly used is characterised by the acronym “IRAC”. This stands for “Issue”, “Rule of law”, “Application of rule to facts” and “Conclusion”.

Step 1 – List the legal issues.

The issue in a case is the question of law to be decided by the court. For example, is there a valid contract between A and B? Stating the issue as a question encourages you to find an answer. It also acts to keep you focused on answering the question based on the legal problem and not to become diverted from the issue itself.

Step 2 – State the rule(s) of law applicable to resolving that issue.

This step sets in place the foundation that allows you to more persuasively answer the question posed in step 1. In this step you will quote and explain, for example, a section of a statute or a body of case law developed by the courts over a period of time. It will often not be sufficient to simply mention the section number of a statute. It will almost always be necessary to use the case law that has been developed to give meaning to some of the words and phrases used in interpreting that statute.

Alternatively, if the issue raised is one dealt with exclusively by the common law, then enough information has to be given about the cases cited to determine if the circumstances of the precedent are sufficiently similar to the question being dealt with that the ratio of the precedent applies to this question. Therefore, mention of the case name by itself is not sufficient in this part. You must give a brief statement of the facts followed by an accurate statement of the principle or rule of law that resulted from the decision in that case. There will often be conflicting precedents that you will have to state and examine. In this way you will be able to differentiate the case law to find the precedents that most accurately conform to the facts presented to you.

Step 3 – Apply the rule(s) of law to the facts presented

This is, arguably, the hardest part of this process. This is where you have to analyse the law and determine how it applies to the issues raised and the facts presented in the scenario. This is the step that takes the most practice to achieve competency.

You have cited certain statutes and cases in step 2 for a reason. You have done so because the facts presented to you have brought to mind the cases and material you have been given at lectures or you have read in your textbooks. You have already given an outline of the facts of the appropriate precedent cases in step 2, you do not need to do so again. What you must do is provide a link between the facts in the scenario and the cases cited in step 2.

You need to state why the precedent case law that establishes a legal rule or principle should be applied to the facts presented to you. You must highlight the similarities between the precedent case and your fact pattern.

Alternatively, you should highlight one or more material differences between the precedent case and the matter before you in order that you can then differentiate the cases and justify why a precedent should not apply to your particular circumstances.

Step 4 – Conclusion

Do not forget that in Australia we have an adversarial system of solving legal disputes. This means that for every legal dispute there are at least two different points of view. This means that for any given scenario there may be more than one possible conclusion.

TOPIC:Faria orally agreed to sell his house in Sydney downtown, to Ellis for $195,000. Ellis immediately sold her house in Melbourne, gave up her job, and moved her belongings to Sydney. Faria refuses to sell Ellis the house. Can Ellis demand the sale of house? Discuss.

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