As discussed in the section on statutes below, it is not sufficient for an answer to set out the correct law without stating from which cases or statutes that law is derived. The examiner needs to see where you are finding the principle or rule to which you are referring or from which you are deriving your argument. Thinking about the authority for your answer also makes you much more likely to get the answer right.
Usually, if the case backs up a relatively simple assertion of the law, or a point of law that is not central to the question, you can merely state the name of the case, e.g., “The mens rea for murder is intention to kill or cause serious injury (Cunningham) or foresight of death or serious bodily harm as a virtual certainty (Woollin).” Sometimes, however, the application of the case to the facts will be more problematic. You may need to draw an analogy from the principle of a case. This will probably require you to consider whether the case would apply to the problem, and may also require you to identify the differences between that case and the scenario in the problem question which will either strengthen or weaken your argument that the case should or should not apply. However, even in this situation there is no need to describe cases in detail or set out all the facts, except insofar as they are relevant to the problem at hand. Any relevant facts should be integrated into your argument rather than presented as an apparently separate narrative. Again, you are not being tested on how well you remember the facts or principles of the cases, but on how you apply them to the scenario you have been given.
If the law is not certain on a particular point, say so. To assert in such a situation that the law is clear one way or the other will show that you do not understand the law. In such situations, explain where the lack of clarity lies: perhaps there are two cases which contradict each other when applied to these particular facts; perhaps these particular facts go beyond the decided authorities and there is no direct law upon them; or, perhaps these facts are addressed by a minority judgment in a case but never by a majority judgment. These are the kinds of “problems” that frequently arise in problem questions – hence the name – and you must be alert for them.
As discussed in the section on cases above, it is not sufficient to set out the correct law without stating from which cases or statutes it is derived. The examiner needs to see where you are finding the principle or rule to which you are referring or from which you are deriving your argument.
You should always refer to the name of the relevant statute and the relevant section within it, rather than referring to the crime in general terms. For example, you should NOT write “X has committed grievous bodily harm against Y” but rather, “X has committed an offence contrary to s18 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.” In examination conditions “s18 OAPA” would be acceptable: the key point is that you are identifying the statute and the section precisely.
You do NOT need to quote the entire wording of the section to which you are referring: to do so is a waste of time. Sometimes, however, a key word or short phrase from a statute is important to your answer and so you should write that out, just as you might quote a key term or phrase from your memory of a case.