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ASSIGNMENT: CASE SYNTHESIS

INSTRUCTIONS:
Please prepare a 2 (single spaced) page synthesis of the law as to when a child can be found contributorily
negligent, as it may be deduced from the following three cases ONLY (i.e. not any lower or higher court
decisions in any of these cases or subsequent considerations of these cases):
Yachuk v. The 0liver Blais Company Limited et al., [1945] O.R. 18-35 (C.A.)
Joyal v. Barsby (1965), 55 D.L.R. (2d) 38 (Man. C.A.)
Ottosen v. Kasper, [1986] B.C.J. No. 139 (B.C.C.A.)
You may adopt the format that you find most useful. However, the objective is to have a concise and general
statement of the rule of law that is still comprehensive and informative. I suggest that you aim to produce a
statement of the rule of law that resembles the textual fusion of rules example at p. 36 of the McCallum book.
Feel free to adapt that style to your own purposes.
The synthesis will be due in class on Oct. 6, 2010.
ABOUT CASE SYNTHESIS
The purpose of learning how to synthesize cases is to enable you to extract a comprehensive picture of a legal
rule from a group of cases, all of which deal with the rule or different aspects of the rule in different factual
contexts.
Since different cases may each contribute different insight into a particular rule or principle (for example, by
adding qualifications, conditions or exceptions), it can be very useful to extract their essential points and to
blend them with each other for a more complete picture of the rule.
A careful and correct summary of the legal rule will assist you in predicting how that rule would apply in other
factual contexts.
For the purposes of this assignment, you are being provided with a set of cases. In a real research situation, you
would likely have to find the relevant cases yourself. The research training you are receiving through the library
should provide background on how you would go about finding cases. This assignment picks up at the point
where you have gathered the cases, and are ready to go about analyzing them.
The process of synthesizing cases involves the following steps.
1) Careful reading of the cases and identification of the rules of law contained within them.
2) Identification of the hierarchy of cases. Are any of the cases leading cases? Are some of them from
higher levels of courts? Are some of them newer cases that refer to the older ones?
3) Comparison of the cases, identification of elements of the rules of law that are common to all cases.
Restate the common parts of the rules of law in general terms, but be careful not to over-generalize such
that the rules are stretched beyond their comfortable scope.
4) Identification of the elements of the rules of law that are present in some cases but not in others. You
should identify why those parts are not shared. For example, the facts of a particular case may have
caused the court to consider an extra dimension that did not come up on the facts of another case. In
such a case, the extra dimension may be added as an extension to the rule. Sometimes, however, the
extra element would only be applicable in a subset of cases, and should be identified as such.
5) Identification of contradictions in the rules of law. Again, identify why there appear to be
contradictions. Can the differences be explained by differences in the facts, or do the cases actually
disagree. If they do actually disagree, clearly identify the levels of court, the jurisdictions and the dates
of the cases on either side and note the points of disagreement. This will assist you in guessing what a
court in your jurisdiction is likely to do in subsequent cases.