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The principles of good advocacy do not change in terms of written submissions. It remains fundamental that your arguments be clear and concise. Lengthy and convoluted submissions will not impress the judge. Increasingly the courts are looking for written materials to augment any oral arguments. The courts in Australia for a long time resisted the move towards written argument. They followed the English practice. Sir Harry Gibbs described the practice in the High Court of receiving written outlines of argument, which were to be no more than three pages in length, at the start of the appeal hearing.1 That has now changed. The practice in the High Court is now to receive written submissions in advance and these are to be no more than 20 pages in length.2 Australia is moving towards the North American practice, which places far more emphasis on written material for all matter of hearings - not just appeals. It is common in North America for written briefs to be provided on motion hearings, written arguments to be provided at trials and written factums are required on appeals.
This document has been peer reviewed.