Senior Advocate Akhil Sibal
Senior Advocate Akhil Sibal

Think critically as you read a brief: Senior Advocate Akhil Sibal speaks on 'Mastering Briefs & Structuring Arguments' [WATCH VIDEO]

Aditi Singh

R&R Law Chambers recently held an interactive session with Senior Advocate Akhil Sibal on 'Mastering Briefs & Structuring Arguments'.

The Session, which was in the form of Q&A, was moderated by Reena Chaudhary and Rohan Batra, Partners, R&R Law Chambers.

During the session, Senior Advocate Akhil Sibal spoke at length on the parameters he checks off before he "dives into a brief", his approach as an appellant, case load management, attending pro-bono matters, focusing on winnable arguments etc.

Emphasizing on the importance of going through the pleadings, Senior Advocate Sibal said,

"To go to court, merely on the basis of a note that your junior has prepared overnight, telling you what the case is about, without having read some part of the pleadings is a very risky proposition. I would not recommend it , even if it means waking up in the wee hours to read parts of it.. Looking at pleadings in a suit is, for instance, essential. Similarly, in an appeal, you cannot avoid reading the impugned judgement line by line."
Akhil Sibal

Discussing instances when there is paucity of time, he added,

"Our Indian style of pleading in repetitive. We don't favour lean, precise, focused pleadings. The approach tends to be that it's not a problem saying more. It is a problem saying less. So, unfortunately, we are burdened with very very lengthy and unwieldy pleadings. But over time you do figure out what the different moving parts are and you can go starightaway to those ..and absorb them quicker. "

Senior Advocate Sibal also disclosed the advantages of reading the pleadings line by line during the early years of one's profession. He said,

"If you've read everything, you are ahead of the game to some extent because there are many others who are involved in the matter other than the person who drafted the pleading, who have not read everything.. When making your contribution, if you've read everything then it is possible for you to pick up on less obvious points..over time, things will start jumping out at you, which are a little more obscure and may/could turn out to be critical."

"If you start skimming and skipping at the very beginning (of your career) then you develop the bad habit and you are not able to sift and differentiate between what's important and what's not important."
Akhil Sibal

He also urged practitioners to "actively read" a brief.

"When reading a brief, you should not be passive the way you are when you're watching a movie, allowing the information to just be absorbed without actually thinking critically..You should be thinking as you go along. You should think critically as you read and try to anticipate and imagine what factual and legal issues might arise even before you've read the facts and seen the legal issues..", he explained.

Senior Advocate Sibal also advised lawyers to think in terms of propositions of fact and law.

"You need to think and learn to think in terms of propositions of fact and law.. A proposition of fact is a factual inference that you wish to derive from the fact. It is the point that you want to make in respect of that fact.. Similarly a proposition of law.. is the point of law.. A proposition is how you need to think, articulate and argue."

Watch the entire session here:

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