PRACTICAL ADVICE: An 11 Point Check-List Before You Begin Any Legal Draft

Vaibhav Aggarwal, a student of NLU Delhi asked the below question from Protik Da on this career page here.

Question: I wanted to know as to what could one do to hone up on drafting skills, while in college. All my internships till now, even though I have got to learn many other things, I haven’t really got a shot at drafting.

Answer: This is a question which is dear to my heart.

The only way you can learn drafting is by trying, and having someone correct it.

I have tried to formulate a few tips which are more like a checklist before you start drafting but they also help you to understand the case.

Ask yourself these questions:-

1. What is the subject matter of the dispute?

2. Who is my client in respect of the subject matter of the dispute?

3. Who does my client say his adversary is in respect of the subject matter of the dispute?

4. What right does my client claim he has that he says that the other side has violated? What duty does he say he is owed, which has not been performed?

5. What relief does he want?

6. Does the law give him that relief? If not, what is the closest that the law gives him?

7. Which are the different authority or fori which give him this relief?

8. Is there any special limitation or time period within which he is to file his case before this forum?

9. Is there any special procedure for filing his case before this forum?
(answers to 8 and 9 will tell you what are the formal statements you must make differing from forum to forum).

10. Is there any format for writing the case up for filing before this forum?

11. Are there any court fees or stamp that your clients is required to put in before you can file this case before that forum?

If you follow this checklist, you will find most drafts are based on this skeleton. If you want, I can give an example.

Say your client says that the dispute is a house which he owns and his tenant refuses to leave. Now ask yourself the above questions and let me know your answer to each question. That will tell me if I have been able to make myself clear.

There is of course an absolute necessity for you to get your draft corrected, otherwise you will not know what mistakes are there.

Vaibhav Aggarwal’s reply:

Dear Sir,

Thank you. Yes, that answer does help and seems to make it quite clear.

Let me try and attempt the question you have posed for me.

1. The subject matter of the dispute is the house.

2. My client, in respect of the subject matter of the dispute is, the owner of the house.

3. My client claims the tenant of the house, to be his adversary, with respect to the dispute.

4. My client claims that the other side has violated and continues to violate his right to possession of the house. The duty owed by the tenant is to hand over the possession of the house, having satisfied whatever conditions might be there (assuming the conditions have been met here).

5. The relief that he wants is to get the possession of the house by getting the tenant to vacate it.

6. The law does give him that relief (again, assuming that the conditions have been met).

7. (I think) the normal civil courts allow him such a relief.

8. The limitation, as per the Limitation Act, would be twelve years, from when the tenancy is determined.

9. No special procedures required for filing in this forum.

10. No special procedure for writing the case up in this forum.

11. I understand this point but am not sure as to what would be the required amounts. The Court Fees Act and the Stamp Act should be of help here.

Protik Da’s further comments:

Very good. Except that in different States of India, the forum might be a Rent Controller or a civil court, and the procedure will differ according to whether it is a special forum or a civil court.

Now how about trying to write a plaint/statement of claim/application for eviction before the forum having jurisdiction in your home State (that way you can get the laws easily from the local market).

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