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[Law Essay / Writing Style] Tense to be used in a law essay problem question Watch

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    May I ask in a law essay for a problem question (the question itself is stated in past tense), could we stick to the past tense for the entire essay? Say could I say "the restrictive covenant between A and B was registrable as a Class D(ii) land charge" instead of "the restrictive covenant between A and B is registrable as a Class D(ii) land charge"? Or should we use the present tense when we are stating the current law?

    Also could I stick to the past tense and say "it was obvious that K did not have a valid contract with Z, because...", or should i say "it is obvious that K did not have a valid contract with Z, because..."?

    Thanks very much in advance for your help indeed.
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    (Original post by funnyapple)
    May I ask in a law essay for a problem question (the question itself is stated in past tense), could we stick to the past tense for the entire essay? Say could I say "the restrictive covenant between A and B was registrable as a Class D(ii) land charge" instead of "the restrictive covenant between A and B is registrable as a Class D(ii) land charge"? Or should we use the present tense when we are stating the current law?

    Also could I stick to the past tense and say "it was obvious that K did not have a valid contract with Z, because...", or should i say "it is obvious that K did not have a valid contract with Z, because..."?

    Thanks very much in advance for your help indeed.

    Use the present tense when it's appropriate - write it as if you're in court now.
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    I agree with The West Wing - use the present tense. Generally in problem questions you are being asked to advise someone, so whilst the question is in the past tense, your advice should be in the present or future tense.
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    I agree with the above, present tense.

    There may be times when the past tense is appropriate - e.g. where some of the events in the question happened in the past
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    Like the others have said, use the present tense, but when you're referring to circumstances that took place in the past, simply use that tense.
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    Yeh present tense. On an aside law school pisses me by requiring me to avoid the first person. Yeh cos avoiding 'I' makes everything so much more objective...
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    (Original post by tomheppy)
    Yeh present tense. On an aside law school pisses me by requiring me to avoid the first person. Yeh cos avoiding 'I' makes everything so much more objective...
    To be honest, I think it's more to do with introducing you to legal practice in the sense that they don't want your opinion on it. They want the law applied as it is, not your spin or what you think, because the law, or the judgments in any case are usually quite clear in the principle they put across, so you saying "I think" "I advise" and so on, makes it too personal, which is not something required in a courtroom
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    Thanks all for the feedback!
 
 
 
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