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Sayles: Land Law Concentrate 5e

Advice on answering problem questions

  • Ensure that you have a clear introduction. Identify the issue and the specific area of law that will help you to resolve that issue. This may also include giving a definition(s) of the particular proprietary right(s) in question.
  • When identifying the issue, make sure you are aware of who exactly you are being asked to advise. The principles of law that you will need to discuss may vary depending upon whether you are being asked to advise ‘the parties’ or just specific individuals.
  • Clearly link each paragraph together. Your answer should be fluid and it should be clear to the examiner why you are discussing the points that you are raising and their relevance to helping you resolve the issue(s).
  • Keep your answer clear and logically structured. A jumbled / confusing answer to read does little to convey that the candidate knows what he is talking about.
  • Utilise technical language accurately. Where used inappropriately, an examiner may start to doubt that the candidate understands the law. For example, don’t confuse the concept of substantively registering proprietary rights under the Land Registration Act 2002, with entering proprietary rights on to the register as a means of protection.
  • Utilise case law appropriately. If a case is being used simply as an authority for a legal principle, then there is no real need to go into the facts of that case. Facts of a particular case will only need to be discussed when demonstrating differences or similarities between those facts and those contained within your problem question. By highlighting any similarities, you may be able to convincingly argue that the issue in your question will be resolved in a similar way to that of the decided case you have highlighted. Alternatively, by showing that differences exist, you can distinguish your factual scenario from that of the case under discussion and consequently argue that it will be resolved in a different way. Such a compare and contrast exercise between the facts in your problem question and those found in case law really help to give strength to your arguments and thus overall strength to your answer.
  • Justify everything. An examiner must be able to see from your answer why you have reached the conclusions that you have. So, for example, when seeing if a particular legal requirement has been met, such as the need for a dominant and servient tenement to establish an easement under Re Ellenborough Park (1956), don’t just say ‘yes, there is a dominant and servient tenement’. Justify that conclusion by actually identifying what the dominant and servient tenements are using the facts from your problem question.
  • Utilise the facts from your problem question fully. The more you can relate and tailor your answer back to the question, as opposed to just regurgitating rules of laws, the stronger your answer will be.
  • Where you don’t appear to have sufficient facts in your problem question to be able to draw conclusions, say so. Identify what is missing and what you would like to know more about. This shows the examiner that you are really thinking about the issue at hand.
  • Finally, remember this: those candidates who out-perform their peers are those who have not just demonstrated a KNOWLEDGE of the law but also an UNDERSTANDING of the law. Such understanding is demonstrated by the way in which they have applied the legal knowledge they have to facts in the problem question they are answering. Strong and clear application is the key.