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Do not submit

Many lawyers write and say things like:

  • In my submission, the employer failed to follow a fair procedure
  • This, I submit, was an act of direct sex discrimination
  • I am going to submit that this claim should be allowed in out of time.

All of these examples can be improved easily, by removing any reference to submissions. For example:

  • The employer failed to follow a fair procedure
  • This was an act of direct sex discrimination
  • This claim should be allowed in out of time.

The second examples have the advantage of being shorter, clearer and more direct. This makes them more persuasive.

5 comments

  1. Abigail

    Interesting, I may try that. However, if I “submit”, I show respect for the tribunal, and make it clear that it is for them to make decisions.

    • Michael

      That’s a fair point. I’ve used ‘I submit’ in the same way from time to time. It can be useful, particularly when you find yourself outright disagreeing with the tribunal and want to diffuse the sense of confrontation.

      The problem comes when you use it to excess. When every paragraph includes ‘I submit’ it’s no longer a show of respect; it’s an annoying tick.

  2. Nick

    In everyday life and conversation it makes complete sense. But the problem is, on the BVC we are taught to say I submit when making statements and I always thought it was used to show that it is not our personal opinion rather it is suggesting our line of argument?

  3. Michael

    If that is what the BVC is saying then, with all due respect, I think they are wrong.

    Provided that you don’t do something silly a tribunal will assume that you are making submissions, rather than expressing a personal view. That’s what you are there to do.

    It’s not that anything terrible is going to happen if you use it. Tribunals are used to people doing far, far stranger things. But my feeling is that it detracts from what you are saying or writing.

  4. Matt Bradbury

    I prefer to use ‘I submit’ as little as possible. One approach to written submissions is that you are trying to write the decision you want the tribunal to give; saying ‘This amounted to less favourable treatment on the grounds of…’ rather than ‘I submit that this amounted to…’ in my view seems to give your submissions a sense that there is greater conviction in the argument being made, and more ‘flow’. But you might have to use it where you’re answering an opponent’s submission, e.g. they submit x, but we submit y….

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