Often, in written submission or oral advocacy, you will need to quote from another text. It might be a document from the bundle or from a piece of case-law.

Most documents will be far too long to quote in full. You should trim them to what is relevant and useful. After all, the full document or case will also be available to the tribunal.

What you must not do, however, is selectively quote to give a misleading impression.

For example, an EAT case may say something like:

Such and such is an attractive and powerful argument.

This is a great quote if you want to argue that ‘such and such’ is true.

If, however, the court then went on to say:

Having carefully examined it, however, we have concluded that it is completely wrong

You absolutely must not quote the first paragraph, but leave out the second. Not only is it dishonest, it will not work. Your panel was not born yesterday. And one of the most effective submissions in a tribunal is one that begins “Let me read you the paragraph just after the one my colleague referred to, so we can look at what he left out”.

Unfortunately, while dishonesty is simple to avoid, it is surprisingly easy to do this accidently.

Many judgments, for example, set out a general rule, but then go on to discuss the limits of that rule or circumstances where it does not apply. It is easy to focus on the general rule, and miss what comes after.

This is something to be alert to. If there is a slight reversal of the quote you want to use, it is much better to deal with it up front. For example:

This rule was set out by the EAT in Smith v Jones at paragraph 17:


The tribunal went on to discuss circumstances in which this rule should not be applied:


For the following reasons, these exceptions do not apply here…

By identifying and dealing with the point you have secured two advantages. Firstly, there is no possibility that the tribunal will think you were shading the truth. This disarms a potentially dangerous attack from the other side.

Secondly, you have dealt with the point on your own terms. If you allow it to be raised by the other side you will be on the defensive. By raising it yourself, you get the chance to discuss it before your opponent; frame the issue and get your retaliation in first.

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