Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Rainbow Warrior Case Study: Answer Key

Exercise 1: legal terminology

(1)-(b) state responsibility
(2)-(h) non-intervention
(3)-(i) manslaughter
(4)-(c) negotiations
(5)-(j) economic sanctions
(6)-(a) settlement
(7)-(f) compensation
(8)-(g) mutual consent
(9)-(d) binding arbitration
(10)-(e) private claims

Exercise 2: comprehension


Exercise 3: research

No answer given.

Public International Law Case Study: Rainbow Warrior Case

Read the summary of the Rainbow Warrior case and then do the exercises on it below.

The Rainbow Warrior case was a dispute between New Zealand and France. It arose following the sinking of the Greenpeace ship the Rainbow Warrior by French secret forces in Auckland harbour in 1985. In legal terms, the case deals with the nature of (1) ____________. It reinforces the concept that international law contains a doctrine of (2) ____________ which states will be punished for contravening.

For many years France had been conducting underground nuclear tests on the Mururoa Atoll in French Polynesia, claiming that these tests had no impact on the environment. Greenpeace had led protests against the French tests for more than 15 years, including attempts in 1973 and 1982 to send ships into the waters prohibited for navigation by France. In 1985 Greenpeace again planned to send several ships, including the British-registered Rainbow Warrior, into the neighbourhood of the nuclear testing area. On 10 July 1985, an undercover operation ordered by the French military service sank the Rainbow Warrior in New Zealand’s Auckland harbour using two explosive devices, killing one crewman in the process. 

Following this event, two French agents caught in New Zealand were sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment for (3) ___________ and seven years for wilful damage, the terms to run concurrently. The French government refused to extradite other French officials involved in the action to New Zealand, and sought (4) ___________ for the release and return to France of the two agents, arguing that they had acted under military orders.

New Zealand suspended the negotiations in May 1986 after France had imposed (5) ___________ which impeded New Zealand imports. In June 1986 the two states agreed to refer all issues to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Perez de Cuéllar, for resolution. Mr de Cuéllar achieved a quick (6) ____________ by July 1986, which required France to convey to New Zealand ‘a formal and unqualified apology for the attack, contrary to international law’, to pay USD 7 million to New Zealand as (7) ____________, and to stop impeding New Zealand imports into the EC. New Zealand was required to transfer the two agents to the French military authorities, who were to keep them isolated under military discipline for a period of three years on the island of Hao in French Polynesia. They were not to be permitted to leave the island except with ‘the (8) ____________ of the two Governments’. The ruling also provided a method of (9) ___________ for further disputes between the two parties. 

However, at the end of 1987 and some months later in 1988 France allowed both agents to leave Hao and return to France, partly for alleged medical reasons. This led to a decision of an arbitral tribunal on 30 April 1990, which distinguished between the two repatriation cases. In the first case, France was not found to be in breach of its obligations towards New Zealand by repatriating the agent in December 1987. However, in the second case France was held responsible for a breach by failing to make a good faith effort to secure New Zealand’s consent to the repatriation. The Tribunal also made a recommendation that the two governments should establish a fund aimed at promoting friendly relations between the citizens of both countries, into which the French government was asked to pay USD 2 million.

In addition to the main case described above, there were also (10) ___________. France reached a settlement with the family of the dead crewman and admitted liability towards Greenpeace which resulted in an arbitral award of damages.

Exercise 1: legal terminology

Fill the numbered gaps in the text above with the correct word or phrase from the list below.

a) settlement
b) state responsibility
c) negotiations
d) binding arbitration
e) private claims
f) compensation
g) mutual consent
h) non-intervention
i) manslaughter
j) economic sanctions

Exercise 2: comprehension

Consider the questions below. In each case, decide which of the four statements (a) to (d) given in respect of each question corresponds most closely to the meaning of the passage.

(1) The two French agents who carried out the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior: Zealand:

a) were sentenced to a total term of imprisonment of 17 years by the New Zealand courts.
b) were sentenced to a total term of 10 years by the New Zealand courts.
c) were not handed over to New Zealand by the French government.
d) also murdered one of the Rainbow Warrior’s crew.

(2) The settlement terms achieved by Perez de Cuéllar:

a) required France to buy more imports from New Zealand.
b) required New Zealand to pay USD 7 million to France.
c) required New Zealand to keep the agents imprisoned for a period of three years on an island in French Polynesia.
d) required France to apologise to New Zealand for the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior. 

(3) There was a further arbitration hearing of the case in April 1990:

a) to decide on the question of the repatriation of the two agents to France.
b) to handle the private claims arising from the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior.
c) because a mechanism for arbitration had been established in Perez de Cuéllar’s original settlement.
d) to decide on the amount of compensation to be paid by France.

(4) France was asked to pay USD 2 million:

a) to the family of the dead crewman.
b) into a fund aimed at promoting friendly relations between France and New Zealand.
c) to Greenpeace.
d) to the New Zealand government.

(5) The legal significance of the Rainbow Warrior case:

a) has to do with the concept of state responsibility.
b) is obscure.
c) is that it underscores the concept that states have a duty of non-intervention.
d) is that it is illegal to sink ships belonging to other parties.

Exercise 3: research 

The theory of the law of state responsibility has developed considerably since the Rainbow Warrior case, in particular due to the adoption of the Draft Articles on the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts by the International Law Commission (ILC) in August 2001. Read the Draft Articles here: http://untreaty.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/draft%20articles/9_6_2001.pdf

Then consider the following questions:

1) Under what circumstances can one state be held responsible for wrongful acts committed by another state?
2) Under what circumstances can an act committed by an individual be considered as a wrongful act of a state?

Refer to the Answer Key for the answers.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Who, Whom, Which and That

Who or whom?

The correct use of who and whom is a matter which many non-native and native speakers of English alike have difficulty with. The distinction between them is that who acts as the subject of a verb, while whom acts as the object of a verb or preposition. This distinction is not particularly important in informal speech but should be observed in legal writing.

For example, whom should be used in the sentence, ‘I advised Peter, John and Mary, all of whom are contemplating claims against RemCo Ltd’.

Who should be used in the sentence, ‘I saw Peter, who is contemplating a claim against RemCo Ltd’.

When who is used, it should directly follow the name it refers to. If it does not, the meaning of the sentence may become unclear. For example, ‘I saw Peter, who was one of my clients, and James’ instead of ‘I saw Peter and James, who was one of my clients’.

Which or that?

Which and that can frequently be used interchangeably. However, there are two rules to bear in mind.

  • When introducing clauses that define or identify something, it is acceptable to use that or which. For example, ‘a book which deals with current issues in international trade law’ or ‘a book that deals with current issues in international trade law’.
  • Use which, but never that, to introduce a clause giving additional information about something. For example, ‘the book, which costs  €30, has sold over five thousand copies’ and not ‘the book, that costs  €30, has sold over five thousand copies’.

Who, whom, which or that? 

Who or whom should not be used when referring to things which are not human. Which or that should be used instead. For example, ‘the company which sold the shares’ is correct. ‘The company that sold the shares’ is also correct. ‘The company who sold the shares’ is incorrect.

That should be used when referring to things that are not human, and may be used when referring to a person. However, it is usually thought that is more impersonal than who/whom when used in this way. As a result it is better to say ‘the client who I saw yesterday’ than ‘the client that I saw yesterday’.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Product Liability Case Study: Answer Key

Exercise 1: prepositions

a) to 
b) in 
c) from
d) between 
e) towards 
f) before 
g) at 
h) for 
i) by 
j) on 

Exercise 2: anagrams

1) tort
2) proceedings
3) trial
4) jury
5) litigation

Exercise 3: verbs

1) heard 
2) ordered 
3) suffered 
4) lasted 
5) claimed 
6) initiated 
7) accusing 
8) Applying
9) found 
10) cited

Exercise 4: true or false?

(1) false (she was sitting in the passenger seat of her grandson’s car)
(2) false (she spent eight days in hospital and lost nine kilograms in weight)
(3) true (the $20,000 offer was to cover actual and anticipated – i.e. future – medical expenses)
(4) true (the coffee was served hot because it was mostly bought by commuters who wanted it to stay hot during their journey)
(5) false (the parties settled the case out of court)

Exercise 5

No answers given.

Product Liability Case Study & Exercise: Liebeck v McDonalds (1994)

Read the summary of case of Liebeck v McDonald’s Restaurants below and then try the exercises on it.

Liebeck v. McDonald's Restaurants (also known informally as the ‘McDonald's coffee case’ and the ‘hot coffee lawsuit’) was an American product liability case (1) ________ in 1994. It triggered debate over tort reform after the jury awarded $160,000 (in addition to $2.7 million in punitive damages) (a) ____ the claimant, who had spilled hot coffee purchased from a McDonald’s restaurant over herself, causing third degree burns.

The facts of the case were that (b) _____ 1992, Stella Liebeck, a 79-year-old woman (c) ______ Albuquerque, (2) ________ a coffee from the drive-through window of a local McDonald's restaurant. She was sitting in the passenger seat of her grandson’s car, put the coffee cup (d) _______ her knees and pulled the lid (e) ______ her to open it. In the process, she spilled the contents of the whole cup on her lap, causing extensive scalding. She was taken to hospital, where it was found that she had (3) _______ third-degree burns on six percent of her skin, as well as other lesser burns. These had to be corrected with skin grafts. Her stay in the hospital (4) _______ eight days, during which she lost nine kilograms in weight. Two years of medical treatment followed.

Liebeck (5) _______ $20,000 from McDonald's to cover her actual and anticipated medical expenses, but the company was only prepared to offer $800. When McDonald’s refused to increase its offer, Lieback (6) _______ proceedings in New Mexico District Court (7) ________ McDonald's of ‘gross negligence’ for selling coffee that was ‘unreasonably dangerous’ and ‘defectively manufactured’. 

The trial took place during August 1994 (f) ______ Judge Robert H. Scott. Liebeck's attorneys had discovered that McDonald's required franchisees to serve coffee at 82-88 degrees centigrade, a temperature (g) _______ which coffee would cause a third-degree burn in two to seven seconds. They argued that coffee should never be served hotter than 60 degrees centigrade, and pointed out that a number of other establishments served coffee at a much lower temperature than McDonald's. In its defence, McDonald's argued that the coffee was served hot through its drive-through windows because those who bought it were typically commuters who wanted to drive a long distance with the coffee; the high initial temperature would keep the coffee hot during the trip. 

(8) _______ the principles of comparative negligence, the jury (9) _______ that McDonald's was 80% responsible (h) ______ the incident and Liebeck 20% responsible. Although the coffee cup had a warning on it, the jury decided that this was not large enough and insufficient. They awarded Liebeck US$200,000 in compensatory damages, which was then reduced (i) ____ 20% to $160,000. They also awarded her $2.7 million in punitive damages, which the judge reduced to $480,000. The decision was appealed by both McDonald's and Liebeck in December 1994, but the parties settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of less than $600,000.

The case has been (10) _______ by many as a glaring example of frivolous litigation (ABC News called it ‘the poster child of excessive lawsuits’), while others have taken a more sympathetic view based (j) ____ the actual facts of the case.

Exercise 1: prepositions

Insert the correct preposition from the list numbered (1) to (10) below into the gaps lettered from (a) to (j) in the passage. 

1) before
2) in
3) on
4) between
5) at
6) by 
7) towards
8) from
9) to
10) for

Exercise 2: anagrams

An anagram is a type of word play achieved by rearranging the letters of a word or phrase to produce a new word or phrase, using all the letters once. The examples below are not pure anagrams since the ‘words’ do not mean anything in their current forms. However, once rearranged they reveal themselves to be nouns used in the case summary above.


Exercise 3: verbs

Insert the following verbs in the appropriate gaps in the passage given above. Note that in order to achieve a correct answer it will, In many cases, be necessary to adjust the form of the given verb into an appropriate tense (e.g. find might be changed to  finding, found or yet another form as necessary).  


Exercise 4: true or false?

Are the statements below true or false?

(1) Stella Liebeck spilt hot coffee over herself while sitting in a McDonald’s restaurant. (true/false)
(2) She had to stay in the hospital for six days and lost eight kilograms in weight. (true/false)
(3) The sum offered by McDonald’s to Stella Liebeck was intended to cover medical expenses she expected to incur in the future due to the incident as well as those already incurred. (true/false) 
(4) During the trial, the defendant company argued that there were good reasons why take-away coffee should sometimes be served hotter than 60 degrees centigrade. (true/false)
(5) At the appeal hearing, the court reduced the damages award to under $600,000. (true/false)

Exercise 5: terminology research

Research the meaning of the following terms used in the passage.

1) poster child
2) frivolous litigation
3) punitive damages
4) tort reform
5) comparative negligence

Monday, 25 June 2012

How to Use Citations

Here are a few notes on the use of citations in legal text.

References to statutes

The names of statutes should be written without a comma between the name of the statute and the year it was enacted. For example, the ‘Children Act 1995’.

The word ‘the’ should not form part of the name of a statute. Therefore, one should write ‘the Single European Act 1986’ and not ‘The Single European Act 1986’.

When referring to a section of a statute write ‘section’ in full using a lowercase ‘s’ (unless starting a sentence). For example, ‘section 2 of the Sales of Goods Act 1979’.

When referring to a particular sub-section of a statute do not use the word ‘sub-section’. Use the word ‘section’ followed by the relevant number and letter, for example, ‘section 722(1) of the Companies Act 1985’.

References to cases

Case citations fulfil two functions. They name the case and also tell the reader where a report of the judgment can be found. The name of the case itself appears in italics, with the word ‘versus’ replaced by ‘v’. The notation which appears after the name of the case indicates where the case report can be found

For example, the citation Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] AC 562 (HL) tells us that the case was decided by the UK House of Lords (HL), involved a claimant called Donoghue and a defendant called Stevenson, and can be found in the 1932 volume of the series of the Law Reports called the ‘Appeals Cases’ at page 562.

Footnotes in academic texts

When citing works in footnotes, the following rules apply:

The names of authors are generally given with the surname first followed by initials. For example: Rutherford, T. B. , Taylor, R. D. and Footner, B. A.

The names of individual articles are generally given in quotation marks, with only the first letter of the first word capitalised. For example: ‘The future of fossil fuels’.

The names of publications are italicised without quotation marks, followed by the year of publication and the name of the publisher. For example: The Environmental Law Review, Vol. 35 (Dogford University Press, 2006).

The page number or numbers relevant to the point raised in the text are given at the end of the footnote.

Therefore, a footnote citing the information given above would appear as follows: Rutherford, T. B. , Taylor, R. D. and Footner, B. A., ‘The future of fossil fuels’, The Environmental Law Review, Vol. 35 (Dogford University Press, 2006) at p. 35.

Standard bibliographical abbreviations

Here is a list of some of the standard bibliographical abbreviations used when citing works in footnotes.

and others (et alii): et al.
edition: edn.
editions: edns.
editor: ed.
editors: eds.
in the same place (ibidem): ibid.
line: l.
lines: ll.
number: No.
page 35: p. 35
pages 35-43: pp. 35-43
paragraph: para.
paragraphs: paras.
revised/revision: rev.
translator/translated: trans.
volume: Vol.

For further guidance on citing legal sources, have a look at the Oxford Standard for Citation of Legal Authorities (‘OSCOLA’), which can be found at www.law.ox.ac.uk/published/oscola.

For further legal English materials, try the Legal English Store.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Subject-Verb Agreement: Guidelines and Examples

When relating the subject of a sentence with the main verb, the basic rule is that a singular subject takes a singular verb, while a plural subject takes a plural verb. The difficulty lies in knowing whether the subject and verb are singular or plural.

Here are some specific rules together with examples of usage. Note that this is by no means an exhaustive list.

(1) When the subject of a sentence is composed of two or more nouns or pronouns connected by and, use a plural verb. For example:

The attorney and her assistant are in court today.

(2) Two singular subjects connected by or or nor require a singular verb. For example:

My lawyer or my accountant is attending the meeting today. 

(3) Two singular subjects connected by either/or or neither/nor require a singular verb. For example:

Neither my lawyer nor my accountant is available.

(4) When a singular subject is connected by or or nor to a plural subject, put the plural subject last and use a plural verb. For example:

Your signature as well as those of the other parties go at the bottom of the document. 

(5) In circumstances where the subject is separated from the verb by words such as along with, as well as, besides, or not, disregard these expressions when deciding which verb form to use. For example:

My lawyer, along with my accountant and one of his colleagues, is expected to arrive later. 

(6) Ignore these expressions when determining whether to use a singular or plural verb.

(7) The pronouns each, everyone, every one, everybody, anyone, anybody, someone, and somebody are singular and require singular verbs. For example:

Each of the candidates is capable of the doing the job well.

(8) The phrase the number should be followed by a singular verb, but the phrase a number should be followed by a plural verb. For example:

The number of different companies involved in this process is five.


A number of different companies are involved in this process.

(9) A singular verb should be used with sums of money or time periods. For example:

Five years is a long time to wait for a court hearing.

(10) Nouns ending in ‘s’ normally require plural verbs but not always. The words news, mathematics, and dollars (among others) require singular verbs. For example:

I'm afraid the news is bad.