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Wednesday, May 12th, 2021 technology  research  practice

A Research Tip

  • Research & Writing

A student who is helping a partner with writing a book (I hope he gets due credit) called to ask which verb tense to use in describing cases.

My answer was that it depends on context.

I think you would say that a judge found, held or stated something in a particular case.

Perhaps where you are talking about a judge’s obiter dicta rather than ratio decidendi, you would use the present tense: In this case, So-and-so J discusses the applicable factors. But you would say, The judge said in dicta that …

Where the description is depersonalised, the present seems more normal: the case sets out a three-part test, stands for a proposition, distinguishes an earlier case.

But let me know what you think.

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)

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