How Judges decide matters


How Judges decide matters – Acting Deputy Judge President Roland Sutherland sets out that an experienced advocate learns the Judges. He does that not only by appearing often before a Judge but by reading their judgements. It is not hard to decipher a Judges personality and how they will decide a matter by reading their Judgments.


How Judges Decide Matters – part 2 by Acting Deputy Judge President Roland Sutherland What is advocacy? Judges are the consumers of the law and advocates are the sellers of the law. If you want to keep the Judges happy you must sell them what they want. The Judges want to know what the facts are, what the applicable law is and what the relief is that you seek. Be brief and to the point.


Preparation – to prepare a case you start at the end and you work your way to the beginning. What do you want and how can you get what you want. Draft the prayers before you draft the affidavit. You must decide what you want from the court and put that in order.Next you see if the law can get you what you want. Then you see if you can get those facts that support the law. Sift the dros from the facts and get out the essence of the matter. Put forward the facts and the propositions and what the law is and you get the pleading. Judges read matters the same way.


Let’s look at what Judges do to decide on a fact. Findings of fact. What points are involved in findings of fact and how do Jude’s use their discretion. One also need me to look at admissibility of evidence. It is important to know how to present a witness so that he at least appears to be telling the truth. Also important is the credibility of witnesses. Gone are the days where the Judge will see that the distance between the eyes or a scar decide these issues. These do not make any impression on the Judge. The analysis is in respect of probability. How probable is the version of the witness?

ADJP ROLAND SUTHERLAND PART 5 How judges decide matters

The reading of a matter takes a long time especially when it goes into hundreds of pages. As the Courts are using Caselines it now takes even longer to prepare these matters. On thé unopposed roll a Judge will usually have up to 40 matters a day. To prepare for all these matters will take at least a day. That is a difficult day. It is accordingly important to ensure that your papers are well indexed and properly referenced. If you can compose your papers in a manner that suites the Judge that makes it easy for the Judge to read and user friendly for the Judge you will stand more of a chance of winning your matters.

ADJP ROLAND SUTHERLAND Part 1 How Judges decide matters

Because we live in a democracy with a very expanded constitution and set of laws and rules the line between what is unfair and what is fair is a very narrow. Individual values do not play a large part in deciding matters. Rather two aspects will help you decide how Judges decide matters (1) working conditions and the types of cases and the types of courts in which Judges operate (2) the techniques that Judges use in deciding cases – both of these two important influencers will be discussed at length in this webinar.

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