The Ancient Art of Advocacy Logo

How to practise writing statements of facts

The ancient rhetoricians taught budding advocates how to write narrations by referring them to books describing historical events. Their view was that history is just a string of narrations or statement of facts strung together (apologies to any historians reading this!), and so texts describing historical events were perfect for advocates to learn how to write narrations or statement of facts. Their go to texts were often the works of Livy, who is hard work by modern standards. Therefore, if you wanted to practise writing out statements of facts from descriptions of historical events, I would suggest that you base these on Winston Churchill’s History of the English Speaking Peoples. Links to these texts are provided free of charge, courtesy of The four volumes cover:

 Vol. 1 The Birth of Britain

Starting with Julius Caesar, this is a rousing account of the early history of Britain. The work describes the great men and women of the past and their impact on the development of the legal and political institutions of the English. Indeed, Churchill celebrates the creation of the constitutional monarchy and parliamentary system and the kings, queens, and leading nobles who helped create English democracy.

 Vol. 2 The New World

Between 1485 and 1688, England became a Protestant country under Henry VIII. His daughter, Elizabeth I, battled for succession and supremacy at home, and the discovery of "the round world" enabled a vast continent across the Atlantic to be explored. While this new era was spawning the beginnings of modern America, England was engaged in a bloody civil war and sustained a Republican experiment under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell.

 Vol. 3 The Age of Revolution

 Beginning with Marlborough's victory at Blenheim in 1704 and ending with Wellington's defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815, Churchill recounts Britain's rise to world leadership over the course of the eighteenth century. In this volume Churchill provides an excellent illustration of his unique literary voice, together with an introduction to his thoughts on the forces that shape human affairs.

 Vol. 4 The Great Democracies

 This last volume spans the period between 1815 and 1901.

 The advantage of using Churchill’s texts is that he was a great rhetorician, and this shows in his writing, which is both engaging and interesting (though reflecting the language of his time) It also covers a huge time span so hopefully one of those books will cover events that you find interesting. It is a lot easier to practice writing out statements of facts, using the above principles, if you find the events you are writing about of interest. It may also be useful to think about the rhetorical techniques that Churchill uses in his descriptions of historical events, and the effects that using those techniques has on the engagement of the reader. What you are looking to do when you write a statement of facts as an advocate is engage the judge, whether that is in your oral submissions or in your skeleton argument.

Finally, when writing out your statement of facts identify a position on the events you are writing about, either for or against. Your statement of facts is not a witness statement, and the details you emphasise should aim to get the judge thinking favourably of your case. 

Before you start to write, bear in mind the following three rules, or write them at the top of the page before you start so you don't forget them.

“We must state our facts like advocates, not witnesses”

“When we set forth the facts we should turn every detail to our advantage so as to win the victory.”

Be clear, concise and relevant

You are not authorised to post comments.