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Structuring a written response

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It is important that you address the directions given to you by your examiner.

Study the assignment task. Note how it concludes with a direction to you, the student. You are required to look at the situation from the perspective of one party involved in the situation presented: Patricia.

Patricia Wu had recently opened up her own office supplies business 'Wu's Wonders' which deals mainly with students at a local university. In addition to selling pens and paper, Patricia also provides copying services for students, particularly science and medical students. She specialises in the copying and binding of student theses.

One day her photocopier broke down and she went to Bob's Warehouse Pty Ltd to purchase a new one. Several were displayed, including a second-hand one, manufactured by Kojack Ltd. It had a huge sign on it saying 'Great Bargain. Low mileage. Almost as good as new. Buy now and save!! Yours for $35,000.'

Patricia asked Shirley, the salesperson, what 'low mileage' meant. Shirley explained that the machine had hardly been used and had only completed 1,000 copies. Patricia then asked how old it was. Shirley replied, ' Oh I'm not 100 % sure but I think it is last year's model'. Patricia told Shirley about her business of copying theses, which included photographs, and then asked if the copier could do a number of specialised tasks, such as colour copies, double-siding, collating, stapling and reducing. Most importantly, she asked whether it was capable of producing large quantities of copies quickly and without breaking down.

Shirley reassured her and said: 'This copier will do all that and more. It has the best quality lens for really clear reproductions. You'll have no problem and anyway we provide a month's free service. We have had no complaints about this model.'

Patricia then signed a contract of purchase, buying the copier for $35,000.

When using the copier, Patricia soon realised that not all copies were clear, the colours appeared to be 'washed-out' and 'red' was always 'pink'. She rang Bob's Warehouse Pty Ltd who sent out a repairman to service the machine. The next day the copier broke down and the repairman explained that it needed a new lens valued at $10,000. Patricia, who had just recently obtained a contract, valued at $50,000, to provide copying services to the University's Faculty of Business, was placed in a stressful position. In order to honour this contract, Patricia had to lease another copier from 'Joe's Office Rentals' at $100 a day for a total of 14 days. When Patricia explained her story to Joe, he laughed and said that that particular model of copier was always breaking down and had been recalled by the manufacturer due to the overwhelming number of complaints. He also said that it was about 5 years old and explained that normally a lens only needed replacing after 200,000 copies had been made. Furthermore, he believed the copier was only worth approximately $15,000.

When the new lens arrived, Patricia's troubles continued. The machine could not reduce and produce double-sided copies simultaneously. It could perform each task separately, but not simultaneously.

Bob sent Patricia an account for the new lens, which Patricia refused to pay because she thought it was included in the first month's free service. Bob replied that the service deal didn't include spare parts, just the labour costs. Patricia re-read the contract. Although it contained a clause which stated that there was one month's free service, the meaning of 'service' was not stated.

She did however, notice the following clause:

'Any conditions, statutory or otherwise, not contained herein are excluded.'

  1. What legal rights (including remedies) would Patricia have against Bob's Warehouse Pty Ltd arising out of the above set of facts? Explain your answer.
  2. What legal rights (including remedies) would Patricia have against Bob's Warehouse Pty Ltd if the price for the photocopier was $45,000? Explain your answer.

As you will note in the task, you need to look at the facts from the perspective of Patricia and find the legal problems embedded in the task that relate to her dealings with a) Bob's Warehouse Pty Ltd. generally; and b) Bob's Warehouse concerning the $45,000 price for the photocopier. You then need to devise legal solutions to both these areas and present them on Patricia's behalf. However, you also need to remember that you are dealing with an adversarial legal system.

Question 1

Bearing in mind that it is an adversarial legal system, look at the task again. Think about how you might structure your written response when you provide a legal solution to the problem(s). Select from the following alternatives the one that you think is the best structure for a response.

possible assignment response best response feedback
  1. Summarise the facts presented in the problem question and explain clearly to your examiner what happened in the situation presented.
  1. After you have identified cases and law that are relevant to the facts in the problem question, summarise and express these clearly for your reader.
  1. Both a) and b) above. Place a summary of the facts in one section of the assignment and a summary of the law in another section.
  1. When you have found the legal issues or disputes in the problem facts in relation to the party you are advising, develop and present legal arguments for both sides of the issue. In the legal arguments, name the issue, give the relevant law and analyse the relevant facts from the problem question.

Check your answers

Question 2: Directions to the student

Study the assignment task again at the top of the page. You will note that, at the end of the series of facts, the examiner has provided clear instructions for the student on what they have to do in their written response. There is no choice or room for negotiation in this matter. If you do not follow your examiner's instructions, you will not receive many marks for your work.

The direction for this assignment task is "What legal rights (including remedies) would Patricia have against...?"

What do you think this means? Select from the following alternatives the one that you think is the most appropriate.

possible interpretations of the question best interpretation
  1. Only look at the problem facts and develop a legal argument from the perspective of the person or party that you have been asked to advise. Completely ignore any counter-arguments for the other person or party also involved in the issue or dispute.
  1. Look at the problem facts to isolate issue(s) and develop legal arguments from the perspectives of all people and parties involved in the problem facts, even if their involvement is only minimal.
  1. Find the legal issue(s) in the problem facts concerning the person or party you have been asked to advise. Then, develop and present in writing legal arguments in their favour as well as counter-arguments that could be presented by the other person or party to the issue or dispute. At the end of your response, summarise your advice to the specified person or party, indicating if you think they have, or do not have, a good chance of success if the case went to court.

Check your answer

Interpretation C is the correct response. As you are looking at the facts from the perspective of one party, you should also present the counter-arguments. At the end, you summarise your overall advice after weighing up the strength of the various alternatives you have presented.
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