Donoghue v Stevenson

The Paisley Snail MiniTrial

8. The Defender’s Opening Speech to the Jury – a possible outline

Junior Counsel can begin with something along the following lines:–

“Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, I now have the opportunity to address you on behalf of the defender Mr David Stevenson – who denies that he has any liability in this case.”

Junior Counsel then summarises in general terms the essential features of the defender’s case. For the purposes of MiniTrial that can be done by simply highlighting the important elements of the case as set out in the written pleadings. By this stage the pleadings are contained in the document known as the “Closed Record”. The Pursuer’s Statements are the paragraphs headed “Stat. 1” and so on in the Closed Record. The Defender’s Answers are the indented paragraphs headed “Ans. 1” and so on. It is for Counsel to decide which parts of the Record to specifically highlight – so that is left to the student’s judgement. Counsel might begin by saying for example:–

“The essence of the defender’s case is a follows. … (then go to the Closed Record and summarise the main allegations as set out in the defender’s pleadings – the paragraphs headed “Ans.”)

Junior counsel can then continue by saying:–

“The question for you is set out in the document called the Issue. Would you please look at that document again with me? You will see that it begins with a question – and then it has a list of various heads of damages. On behalf of the defender, you will be invited to answer the Issue (the main question) “No”. If there is to be any award of damages – it should be very small. Much less than the maximum which is stated to be £25,000. You will now hear the evidence for the defender.”

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