Practising and learning from statements of fact
In the last section, we looked at the purposes of an opening speech, and looked at how those objectives were met in Curran's opening speech in R v Hamilton Rowan. In that speech, once he gets to the end of his opening speech he goes seamlessly into his statements of facts.
You may remember that in relation to statements of facts, the ancient rhetoricians classified all legal issues into one or more of the following four categories:
- Issues of conjecture - has the person done what they are accused of?
- Issues of definition - does what has happened meet all the elements of the offence?
- Issues of justification - does the defendant admit that they committed the act, but argue that the act may be justified in some way ie is there a defence?
- Issues of jurisdiction or forum - should this case be heard by this court or that?
You can find an excellent example of these principles being applied in Curran's opening speech in R v Hamilton Rowan. His client has been charged with seditious libel, which was a political charge, through the use of an ex-officio information. This was a criminal information or indictment laid by the Attorney General on behalf of the Crown, and was a separate process to a normal criminal trial, as it was politically motivated. In his opening speech Curran is pulling out the issues of jurisdiction that arise from this. You can read Curran's statement of facts here.4.3 MB