Legal Reasoning
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Types of Legal Reasoning Questions

Once you have understood what legal reasoning is about and what it aims to test, it is important for you to understand the different types of legal reasoning questions that have come in previous exams.

All legal reasoning questions do not appear the same – some may be much more elaborate, while others basic, You need to be adequately prepared to tackle all the different types of questions.

In this chapter, different types of questions that were asked in previous years’ question papers are analyzed, As you go through this chapter, try to distinguish the different types of questions, You don’t need to worry about the correct answers of each question at this stage.

Type 1  

The classical legal reasoning question.

This question has a single principle with multiple options (usually four, but some of the older NLS papers have three options).

Let’s take an example:

  • Principle: Mere promise without a proper follow-up does not create a binding legal obligation.

Saurav planned construction of a marriage hall and to make it available for the use of all sections of Society, at nominal rates. Gaurav, a rich philanthropist in the area, assured him financial help to the tune of Rs. 10,00,000, Relying on the assurance, Saurav raised a loan and constructed the marriage hall Gaurav did not pay the assured sum. Gaurav was not informed that Saurav had started the construction work, solely relying on his assurance.

  1. Saurav can initiate legal action against Gaurav for breach of promise and succeed.
  2. The one who extended the loan to Saurav, can legally proceed against Gaurav for recovery of the loan and succeed.
  3. Any member, belonging to any Section of Society can initiate a public Interest Litigation against Gaurav and successfully recover the promised amount to Saurev.
  4. No legal action against Gaurav will succeed.

(NLS, 2003) 

Or 

  • Principle: A Person is entitled to protect his property by using lawful means.

Ramlal is growing valuable vegetables and fruits on his farm and he has fenced the farm to prevent the cattle from entering into it. In addition he has kept a ferocious dog to chase away intruding urchins and cattle. Some children were playing in a nearby playground and the ball slipped into the farm. A boy running after the ball came near the fence and shouted for the ball. But when there was no response, he managed to creep into the farm to get the ball. The dog which was surreptitiously waiting attacked the boy and badly mauled him. The boy’s parents filed a suit against Ramlal. 

  1. Ramlal is not liable, since the fence and the dog are lawful means of protecting the property.
  2. Ramlal is not liable for the boy trespassing and getting badly injured in that process.
  3. Ramlal is liable, since an ordinary barking dog would have sufficed for the purpose.

(NLS, 2004)

Type 2

This is a variant of the classical legal reasoning question – the only difference is that there are multiple questions based on the same principle, Such questions can save you some time, since you are not required to spend time on reading and analyzing a new principle for every problem, However, they can also test your understanding of the principle in greater depth, by testing how you apply the principle to different fact situations.

Principle of Law

“If, as a result of carelessness, one injures another, he is legally liable to the injured victim for resulting damages, unless the victim’s own carelessness also contributed to causing the accident. However, if one becomes aware that another has, through his own fault, placed himself in peril of which he is unaware or from which he cannot extricate himself, and the one so aware can still avoid injury to the helpless victim through the exercise of reasonable care, the one so aware will be liable for injuries which he causes the helpless victim through failure to take advantage of this ultimate opportunity to save the victim from such injuries”.

 

  • Chatterjee carelessly left a pole protruding across a public road. Mukherjee, riding a motorcycle, saw the pole but, since he was driving at a speed substantially above the posted limit, he collided with the pole and was injured.

In an action by Mukherjee against Chatterjee.

  1. Mukherjee will win because if it had not been for Chatterjee’s carelessness, Mukherjee would not have been injured. 
  2. Mukherjee will because Chatterjee had an opportunity to prevent the injury by putting up a warning. 
  3. Mukherjee will lose because he was already breaking the law by driving too fast. 
  4. Mukherjee will lose because if he had not been speeding, he would not have been injured.
  • Dwivedi ignored a red light and drove his car onto the railway tracks as a train was approaching, The motor stalled and Dwivedi did not have sufficient time to get the car across the tracks. Trivedi, the railway engine drive, saw Dwivedi and could have stopped the train had he not been waving at a group of girls jogging along a road beside the track. They collided and Dwivedi was injured. In an action by Dwivedi against Trivedi. 
  1. Dwivedi will win because he could not get to safety in time. 
  2. Dwivedi will win because Trivedi was operating the train in a careless manner.
  3. Dwivedi will lose because Trivedi was relying on the warning signal. 
  4. Dwivedi will lose because he did not obey the red signal.

(NLS, 1988)

Type 3  

Multiple Principles

There could be two, three or even four principles in such questions. These questions are often provided to unsettle students – while the principles themselves are not complicated, many students panic when they see so many principles for every problem, which interferes with their ability to think clearly and solve the problem. Let’s take some examples:

  • Example 

Principle – 1: Mischief is an injury to property with the intention of causing wrongful loss to any person or public.

Principle- 2: The person to whom the loss is wrongfully caused by mischief need not be the owner of the property himself.

Facts:

A has leased his house to 8 for 5 years. After one year. A feels the need for the house and requests B to vacate the house, but B refuses. A in order to get B to vacate the house, causes fire to it, but B with the help of the neighbours quickly extinguishes the fire before it could really damage the property.

  1. A is guilty of mischief. 
  2. A cannot be guilty of causing mischief. 
  3. A is not guilty of mischief as there was no damage. 

(NLS, 2000)

  • Example (three principles) 

Principle – 1: No consideration – No contract

Principle – 2: Consideration is something done or abstinence by a party at the desire of another party

Principle-3: Consideration must have value in the eye of law.

Fact:

Innovative Education Trust manages a School named Bharat Vidyaniketan. Ashok, the parent of a student in the school suggested to the Trust that it could build a new library building for which he would bear a part of the cost. The school authority accepted the suggestion and started construction of the building. Ashok having suffered a loss in business, now refuses to pay the part he had offered earlier.

Which of the decisions you think is spproprisis?

  1. Ashok is not liable topsy as the building was for the benefit of the school and he has nothing to do with it by way of enjoying any benefit.
  2. He is liable to pay a Ashok’s child is a student in the same School.
  3. Ashok is liable to pay because based upon his promise, the School authority started construction of the building. 

(NLS 2000)

Type 4 

Questions without principle

These questions are extremely rare, although in 1997 all the legal reasoning questions in the NLS entrance exam did not have a principle. Except for that question paper, there are approximately 7 – 8 questions in all the other years which did not have a principle.

How should you go about solving a legal reasoning question which does not have a principle? Attempting these questions requires you to use prior legal knowledge, However, familiarity with the most commonly asked principles and practicing other types of questions will usually equip you with the necessary knowledge of relevant legal principles, such questions are usually not framed on the basis of ‘new legal principles.

How should you prepare for these questions? It is impossible to learn all applicable principles of law (even for lawyers), and hence apart from practicing past years’ question papers, there is no other way to prepare for these questions efficiently, You will waste too much time if you start preparing for such questions. In case such a question comes in an exam, try to find the best possible answer using your existing knowledge. If you are not sure about an answer to such a question, mark the most appropriate option and move on to the next question.

  • Example

A minor mortgaged her house and received the advance. The mortgagee files a suit against the minor to recover the money advanced by him. The minor mortgagor takes the plea that the suit is not maintainable as there was no valid contract, decide.

  1. An agreement with minor is absolutely void.
  2. It is voidable at the option of the parties. 
  3. The minor is liable to return the money received by him as advance.

(NLS 1999)

  • Example

A goes to grocery shop of B which he frequents quite often for his requirements. 

A: I want ten bags of old rice.

B: Here is the rice you are looking for.

A buys ten bags of rice from Band subsequently discovers that the rice supplied is not really old. A files a suit against B.

  1. A will not succeed, because B did not promise him to supply old rice.
  2. A will succeed, because 8 had agreed to supply the rice of A’s specifications.
  3. A will not succeed, because A should have verified the quality of rice himself.

(NLS 1993)

Type 5 

Choose the most unacceptable’ option as the answer.

Sometimes, a question will require you to mark the least likely option, as the answer. Unlike other questions where you have to choose the correct outcome, in this question you have to follow the opposite process and select the wrong outcome.

  • For example:

Principle: Uncertain agreements are not enforceable by law,

Fact: Allauddin is a dealer in all types of edible oils. Vimal buys from Allauddin mustard oil and coconut oil, On 6 June. Vimal sent a telegram asking Allauddin to send 100 tonnes of oil which was not supplied by Allauddin. Vimal filed a suit against Allaudin.

Probable reasons were given by Allauddin

  1. Which oil is to be supplied was not mentioned though Vimal used to buy coconut oil in previous years in the month of May when this order also was placed.
  2. The price of the oil to be supplied is unascertainable because he was supplied at price different from price charged from others in an earlier period.
  3. Prices of all oils had risen considerably and it was not possible to supply at the quoted price.
  4. The oil was to be bought by Vimal for the purpose of export which was later banned by the Government.

Which among the above will not be accepted?

  1. A, B, C, D  
  2. B, C, D  
  3. C, D

(NLS 2000)

Type 6

Question containing one principle, which tests whether a situation under another legal rule is compatible with it. Unlike other situations which test your application of law to factual situations, this kind of question may require you to test whether a specific provision of law is inconsistent with an overarching rule.

  • Under Indian constitution, everybody shall be equal before the law The Income Tax Act happens to provide that those whose annual income is up to Rs. 60,000/- shall pay 10% of their income as tax; and those whose annual income exceeds Rs. 60,000/- shall pay the tax at the rate of 20%. Those citizens whose annual income exceeds Rs. 60,000/- challenge the Legislation on the ground that it is a violation of the principle of equality before law. 
  1. They will succeed, because the law discriminates against the people who earn more than Rs. 60.000/- per annum. 
  2. They will not succeed, because the people who earn more than Rs. 60,000/- are not equal to the people who earn less than Rs. 60,000/-. 
  3. They will not succeed, because this law enables the Government to equalise the incomes of all the people in the country. 

(NLS 1993)

The question below asks you to comment on whether a particular provision of the Income Tax Act is inconsistent with the Constitution, Note that it also requires you to know that the Constitution is superior to all other laws, and any law inconsistent with a principle laid down by the Constitution is invalid.

Type 7

 Critical reasoning-type questions (without principles), but with legal rules instead of assertions.

  •  All contracts are agreements. All agreements are accepted offers. 

Which of the following derivation is correct?

  1. All accepted offers are contracts.
  2. All agreements are contracts.
  3. All contracts are accepted offers.
  4. None of the above.

(CLAT 2008)

  •  No minor can enter into a contract of work. Working in a shop can be done only by a contract. 

Which of the following derivation is correct? 

  1. A minor cannot working shop.
  2. A shop cannot contract with a minor. 
  3. There cannot be a contract to which minor is a party.
  4. None of the above.

(CLAT 2008)

  •  India is a principle State, and therefore, it will not attack other countries, 
  1. Only a principled State will not attack other countries, 
  2. No principled state will attack other countries, 
  3. All who attack other States are not principled. 
  4. Only unprincipled States will attack other states.

(NLS 1989)

  •  He was convicted by the Court for theft.
  1. All who commit theft will be convicted by court. 
  2. All who are convicted by courts have committed theft. 
  3. None, but who commit theft, will he convicted by courts. 
  4. Most who commit theft will be convicted by courts, NLS 1383.

Type 8

Reading Comprehension type questions containing legal terms, and in other sections of the question paper. Sometimes, a question under the logical reasoning section may be based on a legal text – the question below (which was under the logical reasoning section) appears to test reading comprehension skills.

  •  Contracts can either be written or oral agreements, But certain agreements such as conveyance of land in contradistinction to scale of goods must be in writing to be enforceable, When a judge refuses to rule in favor of a plaintiff in a suit brought on an oral contract when it is required to be in writing, he does not deny the existence of the contract. Rather, the court refuses to recognize the agreement since it was not properly formalized.

The argument above is primarily concerned with the distinction between 

  1. Buyers are and sellers, 
  2. Contract for sale of land and contract for sale of goods, 
  3. Agreement and written record of agreement.

(NLS 1995)

Type 9

Questions with independent outcome and reason – these separate the outcome of the problem (e.g. whether someone is liable or not) and the reasons for the outcome. Choosing the correct option now takes three steps – first the correct outcome should be chosen, then the reason, and last, matching the outcome with the reason. This makes choosing the correct option more time consuming and difficulty, but there are ways to solve such questions more quickly.

  •  Principles 
  1. The owner of a land has absolute interest on the property including the contents over and under the property.
  2. Water flowing below your land is not yours though you can use it. 
  3. Any construction on your land belongs to you. 
  4. All mineral resources below the land belongs to the State. 

Facts 

There is a subterranean water flow under Suresh’s land surface. Suresh constructed a huge reservoir and drew all subterranean water to the reservoir. As a result, the wells of all adjacent property owners have gone dry. They demanded that either Suresh must demolish the reservoir or share the reservoir water with them.

Proposed Decision 

  1. Suresh need not demolish the reservoir. 
  2. Suresh has to demolish the reservoir. 
  3. Suresh has to share the water with his neighbours. 
  4. The Government can take over the reservoir.

Possible Reasons

  1. Water cannot be captured by one person for his personal use. 
  2. The Government must ensure equitable distribution of water. 
  3. Whatever is under Suresh’s land may be used by him. 
  4. Suresh has to respect the rights of others regarding water.

Your decision with the reason

  1. (a) (iii)
  2. (b) (i)
  3. (c) (iv)
  4. (d) (ii)

Type 10

Multiple principles and single set of facts but with several sets of options (no independent question). This problem features multiple sets of options but it does not have an independent question for each set. You just have to choose the correct option based on the principle, for each set.

  • Facts

Hanuman Stores sent certain items in horse carriage to a customer’s house, which happened to be by the side of a main road and nests School Zone, The driver of the carriage delivered the items to the customers and went inside the house to collect the receipt, leaving the carriage unattended on the road. Some naughty children of nearby school threw stones at the horses.

The horses ran in confusion and they were about to run over an old woman. A traffic police, at great risk to his life, Somehow seized the horses and stopped the carriage. He suffered serious personal injuries in the process, Me policeman seeks compensation from Hanuman Stores.

Principles:

  1. Whoever is under a duty of care to another shall be liable for any injury to the latter directly resulting from the breach of that duty. 
  2. Harm suffered voluntarily does not constitute legal injury.

Answers:

  1. (a) Hanuman stores is not liable, because they do not owes duty of care to the old woman or policemen.

(b) Hanuman Stores is liable, because they owe a duty of care to all the users of the road.

(c) Both old woman and policeman could have taken reasonable care to protect themselves.

  1. (a) Hanuman Stores is not liable because some naughty children scared away their horses.

(b) The School management ought to have taken care to discipline the children.

(c) The Hanuman stores is liable because the driver ought to have anticipated the naughty conduct on the part of the children.

  1. (a) The policeman cannot succeed because he suffered injury voluntarily.

(b)The policeman can succeed, because for owed a duty of care to an old woman.

(c) The old woman was under duty to take care of herself.

(NLS 1983)

Type 11

Single fact situation with different principles for each question on the facts, There is one set of facts with multiple questions. Each question is based on a legal principle. You have to choose the correct legal conclusion.

Mrs. Anand went to Malazan Antique shop to buy a vase, Mahazan showed her a vase and told her that it was of the Gupta period. Actually is was older and much more valuable than Mahazan thought. He added, and believed’, that the vase was “absolutely unbreakable”, Mrs. Anand said she did not care whether the vase was of the Gupta period, she bought it.

Leaving the shop, she hailed a taxi driven by suresh, an employee of the Capital Taxi Company. Suresh had just completed his duties for the day. However, he offered to drive Mrs. Anand home for his usual fee. Capital Taxi company had a firm policy prohibiting its employees from carrying passengers while off duty.

Suresh carelessly drove and took a turn without signaling. The taxi rammed into a truck carrying gasoline, Mrs. Anand was thrown to the floor of the taxi and injured her back, The vase smashed.

Principle of Law – I

“Fraud consists of a misrepresentation of existing fact upon which the defendant intends that the plaintiffs will rely, and upon which the plaintiff justifiably relies to his detriment”

  • In a suit for fraud brought by Mrs. Anand against Mahajan.
  1. Mrs. Anand will win because the vase was smashed.
  2. Mrs. Anand will win because the vase was not of the Gupta Period. 
  3. Mrs. Anand will lose because Mahajan believed that the vase was unbreakable. 
  4. Mrs. Anand will lose because she did not care whether the vase was unbreakable.

Principle of Law — II

“An employer is liable for injuries caused by the careless acts of an employee, committed in the course of his employment”.

  • In a suit brought by Mrs, Anand against Capital Taxi company for injuries caused by the careless driving of Suresh.
  1. Mrs. Anand will win because Suresh was Capital’s employee and his careless driving caused her injury.
  2. Mrs, Anand will win because Suresh charged her the usual fee, even though lie was off duty.
  3. Mrs. Anand will lose because suresh was off duty.
  4. Mrs, Anand will lose because Capitol had a firm policy prohibiting its employees from carrying passengers while off duty.

(NLS 1988) 

Type 12

Multiple principals, with different scenarios of the same facts. This is an advanced problem type. You have to choose which of the principle apply, or how they collectively apply. You may have to make legal inferences based on the facts. The questions may also test you on different scenarios thrown into the same situation (i.e. variations of the same facts).

Rules

  1. The fundamental right to freedom of a c the right to form an association as well as not join an association.
  2. The fundamental right to freedom of association also includes the freedom to decide with whom to associate.
  3. The fundamental right to freedom of association does not extend to the right to realize the objectives of forming the association.
  4. Fundamental rights are applicable only to laws made by or administrative actions of the state and do not apply to actions of private persons.
  5. Any law in contravention of fundamental rights is unconstitutional and therefore cannot bind any person.

Facts 

Gajodhar Pharmaceuticals, a private company, offered an employment contract of two years to Syed Monirul Alam, One of the clauses in the employment contract provided that Syed Monirul Alam must join Gajodhar Mazdoor Singh (SMS), one of the trade unions active in Gajodhar Pharmaceuticals,

  • Decide which of the following propositions can be most reasonably inferred through the application of the stated legal rules to the facts of this case:
  1. The employment contract offered to Monirul Alam to join GMS is legal as it does not restrict his freedom not to join any association. 
  2. The condition requiring Monirul Alam to join GMS cannot bind him as it impinges on his freedom not to join any association.
  3. Syed Monirul Alam cannot claim a fundamental right to freedom of association against Gajodhar Pharmaceuticals and therefore, the contract would bind him even though his freedom of association is restricted. 
  4. The employment contract infringes syed Monirul Alam’s freedom to decide with whom to associate and thersfors is legally not enforceable.
  • If Parliament enacts a law which requires every employee to join the largest trade union in their workplace mandating syed Monirul Alam to join GMs, then: 
  1. Such a law would merely govern private action to which fundamental rights do not apply.
  2. Such a law would not curtail any individual’s right to freedom of association,
  3. Neither the employment contract, nor the law of the parliament would be enforceable as they would curtail the freedom of association.
  4. The law of parliament would violate an individual’s freedom not to join any association and therefore be unconstitutional.
  • If Parliament enacts is law that requires trade union to open its membership to all the employees, then:
  1. Such a law would not infringe any fundamental right to freedom of association.
  2. The law of the parliament would curtail an individual’s right not to join any association. 
  3. Such a law would curtail the union member’s’ right to decide with whom they would like to associate.
  4. Such a law would render the employment contract offered by Gajodhar Pharmaceuticals to Syed Monirul Alam unenforceable.

(CLAT 2011)

Type 13 

Ability to arrive at the most reasonable/just inference from a legal rule (requires application of the principle and exercise of some judgment)

Rule: When a State undertakes any measure, the effects of the measure must be the for all those who are affected by it.

Fact

100 mountaineers embarked on an extremely risky climbing expedition in Leh, Weather conditions worsened five days into the expedition and the mountaineers are trapped under heavy snow, The government received information of this tragedy only two weeks after the unfortunate incident and has only 24 hours in which to send rescue helicopters, Weather stations across the world confirm that this particular region of Leh will experience blizzards of unprecedented intensity for almost two weeks after this 24 hour window rendering any helicopter activity in the region impossible and certain death for anyone left behind. The government has only five rescue helicopters with a maximum capacity of 50 people (excluding pilots and requisite soldiers) and these helicopters can fly only once in 24 hours to such altitudes.

As the Air Force gets ready to send the helicopters, an emergency hearing is convened in the Supreme Court to challenge this measuress this would leave 50 people to die.

  • Question – If you were the judge required to apply the Rule, you would decide that: 
  1. As many lives must be saved as possible. 
  2. If everyone cannot be rescued, then everyone must be left behind. 
  3. A measure cannot be upheld at the cost of 50 lives.
  4. It must be left to those who are trapped to decide if they want half amongst them to be saved and leave the rest to die.

Type 14 

Questions testing consistency of the options with several principles. These questions also test your application of multiple principles to different scenarios.

Rule A: When a State undertakes any measure, the effects of the measure must be the same for all those who are affected by it.

Rule B: When a State undertakes any measures, everyone affected must have an equal thern Esse benefit from it.

  • As the government prepares to send in rescue helicopters, which option would be acceptable only under Rule B and not Rule A:
  1. A lottery to choose the 50 survivors excluding those diagnosed with terminal illnesses from participating in the lottery.
  2. A lottery to decide the 50 survivors with single parents of children below five years of age automatically qualifying to be rescued.
  3. The 50 youngest people should be rescued. 
  4. None of the above. 
  • Choosing 50 survivors exclusively by a lottery would be:
  1. Permissible under Rules A and B. 
  2. Impermissible under Rule A and B. 
  3. Permissible only under Rule B.
  4. Permissible only under Rule A.
  •  If the government decides that it will either save everyone or save none, it would be:
  1. Permissible under rules A and B.
  2. Impermissible under Rules A and B.
  3. Permissible only under Rule A.
  4. Permissible only under Rule B.

(CLAT 2011)

Type 15

Multiple principles with scenario-testing, which test your ability to draw legal inferences. These inferences are not limited to deciding whether a particular person will be liable or not, but could require you to conclude whether a particular facts can be established based on the legal principle. In this way, these questions skills which are similar to those which are tested by reading comprehension questions.

Problem 7 (For questions 182 to 185) 

Rules

  1. A person is an employee of another if the mode and the manner in which he or she carries out his work is subject to control and supervision of the latter.
  2. An employer is required to provide compensation to his or her employees for any injury caused by an accident arising in the course of employment. The words in the course of the employment mean in the course of the work which the employee is contracted to do and which is incidentally it.

Facts

Messers. Zafar Abidi and Co. (Company) manufactures bidis with the help of persons known as ‘pattadar’. The pattadars are supplied tobacco and leaves by the company and are required to roll them into bidis and bring the bidis back to the company. The pattadars are free to roll the bidis either in the factory or anywhere else they prefer. They are not bound to attend the factory for any fixed number of bidis. The Company verifies whether the bidis adhere to the specified instructions or not the pays the pattadars on the basis of the number of bidis that are found to be of the right quality. Aashish Mathew is one of the pattadars of the company. He was hit by a car just outside the precinct of the factory while he was heading to have lunch in a nearby food-stall, Aashish Mathew has applied for compensation from the company.

 

  •  Which of the following statements can most plausibly be inferred from the application of the rules to the given facts:

 

  1. Aashish Mathew is an employee of the Company because the latter exercises control over the manner in which Aashish Mathew carries out his work.
  2. Aashish Mathew is not an employee but an independent contractor as he does not have a fixed salary.
  3. Aashish Mathew is an employee because the company exercises control over the final quality of bidis.
  4. Verification of the quality of bidis amounts to control over the product and not control over the mode and method of work and therefore, Aashish Mathew is not an employee of the company.

 

  •  In case the pattadars were compulsorily required to work in the factory for a minimum number of hours every day, then it would be correct to state that:

 

  1. The injury was not caused by an accident in the course of employment.
  2. Aashish Mathew would not be an employee as the company would have still not exercised control over the manner of work.
  3. The injury suffered by Aashish Mathew could not be held to be one caused by an accident.
  4. Stipulations on place and hours of work relate to manner and mode of work and therefore, Aashish Mathew would be held to be an employee of the Company.
  •  According to the facts and the rules specified, which of the following propositions is correct:
  1. The Company is not liable to pay compensation as the injury to Aashish Mathew was not caused by an accident arising in the course of employment.
  2. The company is liable to pay the compensation.
  3. Since the injury did not arise in the course of employment, the Company would not be liable to pay the compensation even though Aashish Mathew is an employee of the company.
  4. The company is liable to pay the compensation as Aashish Mathew is a contracted pattadar with the company.

Answer key – Types of Legal Reasoning Questions

Type 1 

  1. (d)
  2. (c)

Type 2 

  1. (b)
  2. (a)

Type 3

  1. (a)
  2. (c) 

Type 4

  1. (a)
  2. (b)

Type 5

  1. (b)

Type 6

  1. (c) 

Type 7

  1. (c) 
  2. (c)
  3. (b)
  4. (a)

Type 8

  1. (c)

Type 9

  1. (b)

Type 10

  1. (II)

Type 11

  1. (c) 
  2. (d)

Type 12

  1. (d)
  2. (c)
  3. (a)

Type 13

  1.  (b)

Type 14

  1. (d)
  2. (b)
  3. (d)

Type 15

  1. (d)
  2. (d)
  3. (c)

How to answer legal reasoning questions with multiple principles

Question paper setters are interested in testing whether you possess the skills to be able to select, compare, and understand the relationship between different principles to arrive at a conclusion, In fact, this is the task of a judge when he decides a case – he has to choose, from multiple legal rules (the rules correspond to the principles in a legal reasoning problem), the ones that are applicable to a particular case. He may even have to combine multiple rules together to arrive at an outcome, Similarly, the task of a lawyer is to establish why a particular combination of legal rules (or a select few of them) should be applied to the case at hand, leading to a favourable outcome for the client.

Question paper setters Want to ascertain whether you possess such abilities, at least in an elementary form, Therefore, several legal reasoning problems nowadays feature multiple principles. When there are multiple principles in a problem, you have a more sophisticated task at hand – apart from dealing with each individual principle as explained earlier in this chapter, you will also need to evaluate the relationship between various principles.

Therefore, in this chapter we will examine the different kinds of relationships principles can have With one another, and how to solve such questions, from past years’ papers.

Relationship 1 – Where one principle is an explanation of the other

In this situation, the two principles should be essentially read together as one principle, Such a question is similar to a legal reasoning question with one principle only. Let’s take an example:

Facts:

The Consolidated Motors was a firm dealing with second hand cars, Suresh came to the office of the firm and offered to sell their cars, provided he would get 8% commission on cars sold by him. The Consolidated Motors agreed to the proposition, One day, Suresh took out a car for the purpose of demonstration to a prospective silent and in the course of demonstration; he knocked down Ramesh and injured him. Ramesh is seeking legal remedy. The main issue is whether Suresh is an agent of Consolidated Motors.

Principles:

  1. A Principal shall be liable for all the acts of his agent done in the course of employment.
  2. A shall be considered as an agent of 5, provided that:
  1. B remunerates A and  
  2. 5 has direction and control over what A is doing.

Answers:

  1. Suresh is the agent of Consolidated Motors, because he gets remuneration by way of commission.
  2. Suresh is not the agent of Consolidated Motors, because the commission is not the same as remuneration.
  3. Suresh is not the agent of Consolidated Motors because the latter do not have control over his activities.

(NLs 1989) 

Ans:(c) 

Analysis

In this question there is essentially only one principle – that the principal is liable for the acts of the agent done in the course of employment. The second principal merely explains under which circumstances a person is considered agent to be an agent of another person that is, the principal, In order to arrive stan answer, you will have to check whether two conditions, i.e., the first – of remuneration and the second, that of direction and control area applicable to the facts. You will realize that the second condition is not satisfied – Consolidated Motors does not exercise direction and control over how Suresh is selling their cars, Thus, you can infer that suresh cannot be considered an agent of Consolidated Mo . Therefore, Option (c) is the most appropriate answer,

Relationship 2 – where you have to choose which of various principles is applicable

Let us take an Example. 

Facts: 

Mohan promised to take sunder cut fors dinner in TAJ COROMANDEL. Even after two weeks, Mohan did not fulfill the promise, Sunder wants to sue Mohan to enforce that promise.

Principles:

  1. An agreement enforceable in a court of swiss contract.
  2. In order for an agreement to be enforceable in a court of law, there must be a meeting of minds between both the parties.
  3. Parties to a contract should do should do something for the other party, The obligation to do something for the other party is mutual. This is called ‘consideration and absence of consideration renders the contract unenforceable.

If Sunder goes to court:

Answers:

  1. He can compel Mohan to buy him dinner at Taj Coromandel.
  2. He can recover the value of dinner from Mohan, 
  3. This promise will not be enforced by a court of Law, as there is no consideration from Sunder.
  4. None of the above answers is correct. 

Ans:(c)

(NLS, 1990)

Analysis

What is the relationship between between the principles? The second and third principles both explain the circumstances when the first principle takes effect, that is, when a contract comes into existence. In order to solve the problem, you have to analyze whether there was a contract between the parties. For this, you need to identify whether there was a meeting of minds between the parties, and whether there was consideration, In this case, there is no information in the facts to state that there was no meeting of minds – however, it is clear that there was no consideration, as a promise to take Sunder to Taj was unilateral, without any consideration.

Relationship 3 – Where you have to interpret two or more principles consistently or harmoniously to arrive at a conclusion

Consider the following example:

Maniyan was prosecuted for an offence of murder and he was acquitted. Thereafter additional evidence came to light pointing to Maniyan’s complicity in the same offence. So the police want to prosecute him again.

Principles:

  1. Under Indian Constitution, Ifa person is convicted of an offence, he cannot be prosecuted again.
  2. Under Criminal Procedure Code, if a person is prosecuted in an offence and if the prosecution results either in an acquittal or in conviction, then he cannot be the prosecuted for the same offence.

Answers:

  1. Maniyan cannot be prosecuted as he enjoys the right under our Constitution not to be prosecuted twice for the same offence.
  2. Maniyan cannot be prosecuted as he enjoys the right under Criminal Procedure Code not to be prosecuted twice for the same offence.
  3. Maniyan cannot be prosecuted as he is protected both by the Constitution and criminal Procedure Code. 
  4. None of the above answers is correct.

(NLS, 1990)

Analysis 

What’s the correct answer according to you?

As per the Constitution, a person cannot be punished twice, while as per the Criminal Procedure Code, a person cannot even be prosecuted twice. Which one will prevail? Can both the principles be interpreted together in a consistent manner, so that none of them negates or overrides the other?

Yes – if a person cannot be prosecuted twice, it safeguards the constitutional principle that he cannot be convicted twice. Since there can be no conviction without prosecution, Hence, the Criminal Procedure Code provision, which affords wider protection, is consistent with the Constitution. While he is also protected by the Constitution of India, the protection under the Constitution is not sufficient to prevent his prosecution, for which we have to rely on the Criminal Procedure Code, Hence, Option (c) is not the correct answer, Therefore, in this case, Option (b) is the most appropriate answer – he cannot.

Relationship 4 – Where you have to apply two different principles in parallel

Principle-1: Master is liable for this act of this Employee/Servant.

Principle-2: The husband or the wife are not responsible for any commission of wrong on each other.

Fact

H is s manager of a Hotel belonging to X. Because of the negligence of H, a folding chair fell from the first floor to the ground floor injuring the Receptionist of the Hotel, named W who is the wife of H, W asks for Compensation from X and H.

  1. Both X and H are responsible to compensate W. 
  2. X is only responsible to compensate W. 
  3. No one is responsible to compensistS W.

(NLS 2000) 

Ans:(b) 

Analysis

While this is an extremely easy question and you can arrive at the correct answer by simply applying the principles in a straightforward manner, many aspirants get this wrong. Why is Option (b) the correct answer? Option (b) states that only X (i.e., the hotel owner) is liable, Recall the basic rule – you are expected to apply the principles as they are and no extraneous considerations should be applied. If you apply the first principle, you will come to the conclusion that the master, i.e., X is listle, Now, if you apply the second principle, you will realize that H, being the husband, is not liable, Therefore, as per this option, we reach a conclusion after applying both the principles. Hence, this is the correct answer.

In order to confirm our choice, let’s also examine the other options and see why they are not correct, Option (s) (both X and Hare responsible) is not the correct answer, as it is contrary to the second principle – which states that the husband is not responsible for wrongs committed against the wife. Many aspirants tend to choose this answer, Sometimes, they believe that since this is s wrong not committed in the course of a marital relationship, but in the workplace, so the principle that the husband should not be responsible to the wife is not applicable, However, is that relevant? Does the principle carve out any exception to the rule that the husband is not liable for wrongs committed against the wife? Does the principle state that this rule only applies to a particular set of actions and not otherwise?

While solving a legal reasoning problem you are supposed to apply the principles as they are, but if you choose option (a), you end up ignoring the second principle completely, Hence, it is not the correct answer.

What about Option (c), which states neither person is liable? Why would you choose option (c)? Some of you might believe that since the husband, who is the primary doer of the wrong, is not liable (after application of the second principle), somebody else cannot be vicariously held husband liable for the wrong. However, where is this understanding coming from? Do any of the principles state this? Let’s examine how you have applied the principles when you choose that neither the husband nor the manager is liable – while you apply the second principle, you end up neglecting the first. The purpose of the legal reasoning problem was to apply both the principles, Hence, Option (c) is also not the correct answer.

Relationship 5 – where one of the principles carves out an exception to a principle, or stipulates conditions to limit the applicability of another principle

Example 1

Facts

Rajiv is a servant of Jawaharlal, On his way to Jawahar’s house to report for duty, he goes to have a cup of coffee, There he sees Singh and accuses Mr. Singh of being a dishonest person, Mr. Singh wants to sue Jawaharlal, as Rajiv is Jawahar’s servant.

Principles:

  1. Master is liable for the wrongful acts committed by servants, in the course of their employment if third parties suffer damages in consequence.
  2. However the master is not liable if the wrongful act was committed by the servant has no connection whatsoever with the servant’s contract of employment.
  3. If a person by an act lowers the reputation of another in the eye of right thinking people, then the person who suffered loss of reputation can sue for damages.

Answers:

  1. Jawaharlal is liable because Rajiv defamed Singh.
  2. Jawaharlal is not liable as the defamation was not in the course of Rajiv’s employment. 
  3. Rajiv is liable even though the defamation was not in the course of employment.
  4. None of the above answers is correct.

(NLS, 1990)

Analysis

In this situation, the third principle explains the wrongful act under consideration – i.e., defamation, The first principle makes the master liable for wrongful acts of the servant, The second principle carves out an exception – the master is not liable if the servant’s act has no relation with the contract of employment.

What is the answer? Was the defamation committed in the course of employment? No,

Did it have any connection with the Rajiv’s contract of employment? No. Therefore, Option (b) is the correct answer.

Example 2 

Facts:

Krishna was walking on a lonely road. Maniyan come with a knife and said to Krishna, “Your life or your purse”, Krishna pulled out his revolver. On seeing it, Maniyan ran. Krishna shot Maniyan in his legs.

Principles:

Answers:

  1. Krishna will not be punished, as there was danger to his property.
  2. Krishna will not be punished, as the force he used was proportionate to the apprehended injury.
  3. Krishna will be punished, as the force employed was disproportionate to the apprehended injury.
  4. As Maniyan ran to escape there was no longer a threat to Krishna’s property, So Krishna will be punished.

(NLS 1990)

Analysis

In this case, the second principle restricts the scope of the first principle, that a person must use reasonable force – it adds the requirement of proportionality as well, Once Maniyan ran, there was no need for Krishna to take any further action, Since he shot Maniyan despite his running away, we can conclude that Krishna used disproportionate force. Hence, the correct option is (c).

Relationship 6 – Understanding relationships in scenario-based questions

CLAT 2011 featured several questions which tested people on different scenarios of the same broader fact situation, Such questions feature many principles – there were as many as 5 or 6 principles in CLAT 2011. Each scenario introduces a minor variation in the overall fact situation, You are required to determine which principles will be applicable in the given scenario and apply them to the facts. These questions are often long, so reading and understanding the question can take significant time, Any other line that we should add)?

To answer these questions correctly, you need to develop the ability to select the principles which will be applicable in light of a particular fact situation very quickly, Often, each option is deliberately drafted to correspond to one principle or another. Therefore, unless you have been able to decide which principle will be applicable in a particular situation, you will not be able to choose the correct answer simply by looking at the options.

List’s tasks are some examples: 

Example 1

  1. The fundamental right to freedom of association includes the right to form an association as well as not join an association. 
  2. The fundamental right to freedom of association also includes the freedom to decide with whom to associate. 
  3. The fundamental right to freedom of association does not extend to the right to realize the objectives of forming the association. 
  4. Fundamental rights are applicable only to laws made by or administrative actions of the State and do not apply to actions of private persons. 
  5. Any law in contravention of fundamental rights is unconstitutional and therefore cannot bind any person.

Facts 

Gajodhar Pharmaceuticals, a private company, offered an employment contract of two years to Syed Monirul Alam, One of the clauses in the employment contract provided that Syed Monirul Alam must join Gajodhar Mazdoor Singh (GMS), one of the trade unions active in Gajodhar Pharmaceuticals,

Question 1 

Decide which of the following propositions can be most reasonably inferred through the application of the stated legal rules to the facts of this case:

  1. The employment contract offered to Monirul Alam to join GMS is legal as it does rot restrict his freedom not to join 3ny association. 
  2. The condition requiring Monirul Alam to join SMS cannot bind him as it impinges on his freedom not to join 3ny association. 
  3. Syed Monirul Alam cannot claim a fundamental right to freedom of association against Gajodhar Pharmaceuticals and therefore, the contract would bind him even though his freedom of association is restricted. 
  4. The employment contract infringes Syed Monirul Alam’s freedom to decide with whom to associate and therefore is legally not enforceable,

Analysis:

Is the employment contract legal? Is the condition in the employment contract binding? Principles A, B and D gre the ones that are relevant to determine these questions. The employee has the right to freedom of association as per Principle A. This right includes the freedom is decide with whom he wishes to associate. In the present scenario, the employment contract mandatorily requires him to associate with a particular trade union. Does this violate his freedom of association? Note that his freedom is restricted by means of an employment contract with a private entity, and as per Principle D, fundamental rights do not apply to actions of private entities. Therefore, the correct answer is Option ©

Question 2 

If Parliament enacts a law which requires every employee to join the largest trade union in their workplace mandating syed Monirul Alam to join SMS, then: (a) Such a law would merely govern private action to which fundamental rights do not apply.

(b) Such a law would not curtail any individual’s right to freedom of association, (c) Neither the employment contract, nor the law of the parliament would be enforceable as they would curtail the freedom of association. (d) The law of parliament would violate an individual’s freedom not to join any association 3nd therefore be unconstitutional,

Analysis 

What is the correct answer according to you? After you have solved the previous question, this question should be very easy to Check. In the previous question, the employment contract was entered into with a private entity, so fundamental rights could not be invoked. However, in this question, we are considering a law made by Parliament. Recall from Principle D that fundamental rights are applicable to laws made by the state. Since the law mandatorily requires an employee to join the largest trade union in the workplace, it violates the freedom of the employee to choose the persons with whom he wishes associate, as per Principe B.

Question 3

If Parliament enacts a law that requires trade union to open its membership to all the employees, then 

  1. Such a law would not infringe any fundamental right to freedom of association.
  2. The law of the parliament would curtail an individual’s right not to join any association. 
  3. Such a law would curtail the union member’s’ right to decide with whom they would like to Associates. 
  4. Such a sv would render the employment contract offered by Gajodhar Pharmaceuticals to Syed Monirul Alam unenforceable.

Ans: (c)

(CLAT 2011)

Analysis

What is the correct answers.according is you? Since the law requires the union to make the existing members of the union will not be able to select or determine which employees join the union, and will have to accept whoever wishes to join. Therefore, this will impact the right of the union members to choose whom they associate with.

Principle D makes it clear that the fundamental right to freedom of association applies only to actions of the state, and Principle Ecclesiastes that if a law is in violation of fundamental rights, it is invalid. Applying these two principles together, we can conclude that the sw will be invalid. However, this will have no impact on the centract, since fundamental rights are not applicable to actions of private entities (as per Principle D)

Further explanation

Sometimes, to arrive at the correct answer, you may need to eliminate the other options as well. Let’s see how the other options fare when matched to the principle.

Option (a) is incorrect-as we just demonstrated, the right to freedom of association of the union members will be infringed.

Option (b) is not applicable – the swimsds by Parliament has only required the union to open its membership to everyone, but has not required employees to mandatorily join a union. The option is based on an incorrect interpretation of facts.

What about Option (d)? Option (d) is contradictory – the employment contract (requiring the employee to join a specific trade union) will actually be consistent with the law, which requires trade unions to open membership to all employees who wish to join,

Moreover, as Principle D states that fundamental’ rights do not extend to actions of private entities, the validity or invalidity of the law will have no impact on the employment contract, which is entered with a private entity. Thus, Option (d) is incorrect.

How to answer legal reasoning questions with one principle

Solving a legal reasoning problem boils down to one skill- the ability to interpret and apply principles to the facts, efficiently and accurately. This is the core of a legal reasoning problem, If you can do this consistently, you can ace the legal reasoning section of a law entrance question paper. Understanding and applying a principle to the facts can be a very sophisticated process, and does not receive the importance it deserves, by law aspirants and even at coaching classes. Coaching classes ensure that students practice legal reasoning problems endlessly – sometimes students end up practising the same questions again and again, which leads to theirs cramming the correct answers to questions. However, this exercise is fruitless, unless the same question (with the same facts, principles and options) reappears, without any variation in the exam, there is no benefit from such practice.

Therefore, no matter how much they practice, unless they figure out the ‘correct techniques’ of applying the principles, they will never get answers correct. In fact, the very purpose of practice is defeated by this process, because you are no longer practicing with the objective of learning and fine-tuning the technique, but you are ending up cramming the correct answer.

Even While attempting mock tests, most CLAT aspirants are surprised to see a huge difference in their actual marks scored in the legal reasoning section vis-à-vis the previously expected marks. When they attempt the questions in a mock, they do not realize. When they have applied a principle incorrectly. As a result, they do not know which answers are Wrong and Why they are Wrong. This leads to unexpected surprises each time the marks for a mock test are released. Sometimes, students who perform Well in the mocks end up With a poor performance in the entrance, especially if there has been a significant departure from the pattern in the problems of previous years’ question papers.

Therefore, We have decided to dedicate a separate video on how to deal with principles.

Before moving further, recall the video on “How to solve a Legal Reasoning Problem”, which explained the steps to tackling a legal reasoning question. Let’s understand the stages when you will be dealing with a principle while solving a legal reasoning problem.

When you solve a legal reasoning problem, you will be required to apply the principle at the following stages:

  • Once you read the principles and the options, you will have to check which of the options is consistent with the principle (discussed in Step 3 of the method).
  • If you cannot arrive at an answer merely by reading the principle and the options, you may have to read the facts. After you have read the facts, you will have to interpret and apply the principle to the facts and choose the most appropriate conclusion from the options (as discussed in Step 7 of the method).

In order to be able to apply the method consistently and accurately, you need to learn how to understand and apply different types of principles to the facts. You have already seen earlier, in the video on the different Types of Legal Reasoning Questions’, how legal reasoning problems can be very different from each other, and how they have evolved in recent years – they can vary widely in complexity, details and in the amount of effort required to solve them.

How can you develop and fine-tune your ability to deal with principles?

Interestingly, there are limited skill sets that you need to learn in order to be able to solve any kind of legal reasoning problem that has been asked so far in the past years’. What are these skill sets? They are broadly divided into two components:

  • How to interpret and apply legal reasoning principle to specific facts, 
  • How to evaluate the relationship between multiple principles, and then applying them to the facts.

In this article, you will learn how to understand and apply a legal reasoning principle to specific facts (Broad skillset 1).

Interpretation of a principle requires you to undertake three kinds of tasks:

  1. You may have to break the principle down into its constituents, and check whether the facts satisfy the constituents. Often, a principle may be extremely simple and it may not be possible to break it down further into its components. In such cases, you will still have to follow the next two steps. 
  2. While applying the principle to the facts, you may have to interpret the principle which requires you to exercise a certain level of discretion or judgment, With respect to the facts, In some cases, it may require you to utilize prior knowledge. There is a high likelihood that an untrained person may not be able to correctly interpret and apply the principle – to the untrained eye, more than one conclusion may be acceptable if the principle is applied literally.
  3. Sometimes, you may even have to utilize prior knowledge to understand the meaning of the principle itself.

Let us examine the elements involved in interpretation and applying a principle to the facts, by taking a few examples:

Example 1

A partner shall share with other partners whatever profit he makes in the course of partnership business.

Partner in a Bangalore firm engaged in textile business, went to a nearby place to buy some silk sarees. The manufacturers therein told him: “If you buy 500 sarees, you will get a discount of Rs.50 in each saree”. Pin fact required only 400 sarees for his firm; nevertheless, he bought 500 sarees and kept 100 sarees for himself. After sometime, he on his own sold 100 sarees and made a good profit. Other partners demand that he should share these profits with them.

  1. P has to share the profits, because he bought these 100 sarees in the course of partnership business.
  2. P need not share it, because he has already benefited the firm by getting a substantial discount on the purchases. 
  3. P need not share the profits, because his additional buying of 100 sarees Was to get the discount and help the firm. 

(NԼS 1994)

Analysis

In order to find the correct answer to this question, you will have to read the facts, and check which of the options is consistent with the principle. How should you go about this process? Ideally, you should divide the principle into its components. This principle has four components:

  1. There should be a partnership business in existence.
  2. Profits must be made a partner.
  3. The profits must be made in the course of the partnership business.
  4. If all the 3 ingredients above are satisfied, then profits will have to be shared With other partners.

You can individually mark each component of the principle using a pencil or pen. Now, let’s test. Whether the ingredients are satisfied. (Put tick marks against all the ingredients).

  1. There should be a partnership business in existence Yes, because there is a Bangalore firm’ engaged in textile business. A partnership business is known as a firm’ in legal terminology. While you may not know this from prior language, you can infer this from the drift of the language, and from the fact that there are ‘other partners who demand a share in the profits of the business.
  2. Profits must be made by the partner Yes, As per the facts, P made a profit’ by selling the 100 sarees.
  3. 3. The profits must be made in the course of the partnership business Yes, profits were made in the course of the business in which the partnership was engaged’. The facts state that the partnership firm was into textiles, and silk is a subcategory of the textile segment (which is affirmed by the fact that P bought a certain number of sarees for the firm).
  4. If all the 3 ingredients above are satisfied, then profits will have to be shared with other partners.

Since all three ingredients above are satisfied, profits will have to be shared with the partners.

This technique should always be used for solving legal reasoning problems. Until you attain a certain level of proficiency and are able to apply it mentally so that the technique becomes second nature to you, We advise that you use a pen or pencil to mark the individual ingredients in an option. This will also prevent you from making careless mistakes in the exam, and in correctly answering with tricky questions.

In order to apply a principle to the facts, you should always break a principle down into its individual ingredients and check whether they are satisfied by the facts.

Let’s take another example.

Example 2 

Law does net take notice of trifles.

A proposes to his neighbour B that they both should go together for a morning walk. B agrees to the proposals and it is decided that both of them would meet at a particular point 6 A.M. from where they would set off for the morning walk. Inspect of the agreement B does not turn up, A waits for him at 6 a.m. every day for a continuous period of seven days. There after he files a suit against B claiming damages for the agony and mental torture suffered by him. Decide. 

  1. B is guilty of breach of contract and is liable to pay damages.
  2. There is no intention to enter into legal relations.
  3. The matter is too small and the court will refuse to go into it.

(NLS 1999)

Analysis 

This principle does not have sub-components and cannot be broken down further, It only requires a determination of whether the suit filed by A was with respect to a trivial or non-serious issue. The determination may require you to exercise a certain level of judgment, but it’s not too difficult.

Let’s try to solve this question – is it a trivial issue that B did not turn up early in the morning at the agreed time for a week? Yes.

Now, let’s take a look at the options, Option (a) is implying that A and B had entered into a contract. The principle did not refer to contracts. Moreover, this was merely a friendly arrangement for a morning Walk, What about option (b)? Well, clearly the intention Was not to enter into legal relations, but you should not fall for this one. This option is not consistent With the principle, which refers to trifles, net to the intention to enter into legal relations. Now, take a look at Option (c) – it states that the matter is ‘too small and the court Will refuse to go into it, which pertains to the principle.

As you saw above, solving these questions sometimes requires you to possess a certain level of prior knowledge, You may also be required to exercise some level of discretion or judgment.

Example 3 

A mere right to sue cannot be transferred.

A’s lessee had covenanted to pay the Government revenue or in default to be liable to A in damages. A sold the reversion to Band also assigned to B his right to recover from the lessee’s default, The assignee files a suit to recover damages. Decide,

  1. This is a mere right to sue for damages for the breach of contract and cannot be transferred.
  2. This is mere than a mere right to use.
  3. This is an actionable claim and can be assigned.

(NLS 1999)

This problem contains many terms which are not clearly explained, either in principle or in the facts. After you read this problem, you may have one or more of the following questions in your mind (the number of questions may vary depending on your current state of legal knowledge).

  • What is a mere right to sue? How do you identify that a particular right is a mere right to sus? 
  • Who is a lessee? 
  • What is the meaning of reversion? 
  • What is the meaning or consequence of A assigning the right to B? What is the meaning of assignment?

However, you will realize that this principle cannot be broken down into its subcomponents. The trick in such a question is to understand the meaning of the principle. If you understand the meaning of the principle, you can apply it to the facts immediately. You have to understand the facts correctly, and then determine ‘whether a mere right to sue was transferred. As explained before, such situations may sometimes require you to exercise a certain level of judgment’.

Let’s assume you don’t know the meaning of reversion, but you know that a lessee is a tenant and that assignment means transferring certain rights to another person.

Can you try to solve the problem now? What would your answer be? Make a mental note of it.

Analysis 

A had a tenant who had agreed to pay any government charges on the property. Upon failure to do so, he would have to pay damages to A. A transferred his rights With respect to this property to B, including the right to recover damages.

Do you observe that B now becomes the landlord vis-a-vis the tenant? He also has the right to obtain damages in case of non-payment of government charges by the tenant, for which he can sue (if necessary). B will not merely sue for damages which are due to A. If that were the case, it would be a transfer of the right to sue. Instead, the damages will now be due to B. Since he is suing for damages which he is legally entitled to earn, and since all rights over the tenant which were with A are transferred, this is not a transfer of a mere right to sue.

What is the best way to prepare for such questions? Through continuous practice of legal reasoning, you should be able to develop sufficient understanding of prior knowledge which enables you to attempt most questions framed in this manner, Despite such preparation, if you are not able to solve a particular question in the examination, you should choose the most appropriate answer and proceed, since the number of legal rules that you could be asked on is very large and not possible to cover systematically (even practicing lawyers and judges do not know all the legal rules at a particular point in time), any other method of preparation for questions which require you to exercise prior knowledge Will not be efficient use of your time for preparation.

Example 4 

A contract without consideration is void.

A owes B Rs. 1100/- but debt is barred by limitation. B cannot file a suit. A signs a written promise to pay B Rs. 500/- on account of this debt. B now files as suit for the recovery of Rs.500/-. Decide. 

  1. The contract is not enforceable as consideration is inadequate 
  2. Time barred debt is no consideration 
  3. The contract is enforceable as it has sufficient consideration

(NԼ3 1399) 

Ans:(c)

Explanation: What is the meaning of a ‘debt barred by limitation”? It is explained in the facts itself – that B cannot file a suit to recover the debt. Interestingly, you are not required to pay any attention to the issue of limitation – it has merely been mentioned in the facts to unsettle you, You have to identify whether this B’s promise was in return for some consideration, Read the facts carefully – why is the Written promise to pay Rs. 500 being given? The facts state it is on account of a debt. Thus, there is consideration in this.

You may believe that this question may require you to have some level of ‘prior knowledge and understanding’ about the concept of consideration, to verify whether an action done in the past can also qualify as consideration for a promise made afterward. It turns out that past actions can qualify as consideration. However, if you simply apply the literal meaning of consideration, as something done in return for another action (without restricting the scope of this principle), you will realize that the promise was in return for the debt, and hence you will arrive at the same conclusion.

Example 5 

Principle

Uncertain agreements are non enforceable by law. 

Facts

Allauddin is a dealer in all types of edible oils. Vimal buys from Allauddin mustard oil and coconut oil. On 6 June. Vimal sent a telegram asking Allauddin to send 100 tonnes of oil which was not supplied by Allauddin. Vimal filed a suit against Allaudin. 

Probable reasons given by Allauddin

  1. Which oil is to be supplied was not mentioned though Wimal used to buy coconut oil in previous years in the month of May when this order also was placed.
  2. The price of the oil to be supplied is unascertainable because he was supplied at a price different from the price charged from others in earlier period.
  3. Prices of all oils had risen considerably and it was not possible to supply at the quoted price.
  4. The oil was to be bought by Vimal for the purpose of export which was later banned by the Government.

Which among the above will not be accepted?

 

  1. A, B, C, D 
  2. B, C, D 
  3. C, D

(NԼ3 2000)

What is the correct answer according to you?

(Insert on a button which states “Listen to the correct answer”)

Analysis

In order to solve this question, you will have to evaluate each option individually against the principle, All options may not be equally correct – different options may have various degrees of correctness or acceptability, Simply strike out the outcomes that are consistent With the principle, The options which do not correspond to the principle or are contrary to the principle will be your answer.

Let’s solve this question, First, read the options and strike out the reasons which could be acceptable, on the ground of uncertainty. Remember – you are only required to strike out the reasons that relate to uncertainty, If you read the options, you realize that Reasons (a) and (b) indicate the presence of uncertainty in the communication – Reason (a) refers to uncertainty in the variety of oil, i.e. the subject matter of the contract, and Reason (b) refers to uncertainty in the price.

Hence they should be struck out. Reason (c) refers to Whether to whether it was commercially feasible to supply the oil, and Reason (d) points out at a change in law, neither of which create uncertainty in the current contract. Hence, both Reason (c) and Reason (d) are unacceptable. The correct option is therefore, option (c), which states that Reasons (c) and (d) will not be accepted.

Example 6

Rule: When a State undertakes any measure, the effects of the measure must be the same for all those who are affected by it.

Facts

100 mountaineers embarked on an extremely risky climbing expedition in Leh. Weather conditions worsened five days into the expedition and the mountaineers are trapped under heavy show. The government received information of this tragedy only two weeks after the unfortunate incident and has only 24 hours in which to send rescue helicopters.Weather stations across the world confirm that this particular region of Leh will experience blizzards of unprecedented intensity for almost two Weeks after this 24 hour Window rendering any helicopter activity in the region impossible and certain death for anyone left behind. The government has only five rescue helicopters With a maximum capacity of 50 people (excluding pilots and requisite soldiers) and these helicopters can fly only once in 24 hours to such altitudes.

As the Air Force gets ready to send the helicopters, an emergency hearing is convened in the Supreme Court to challenge this measure as this would leave 50 people to die.

Question – If you were the judge required to apply the Rule, you would decide that: 

  1. As many lives must be saved as possible. 
  2. If everyone cannot be rescued, then everyone must be left behind. 
  3. A measure cannot be upheld at the cost of 50 lives.
  4. It must be left to those who are trapped to decide if they want half amongst them to be saved and leave the rest to die.

(CLAT 2011)

Analysis

This is a situation where you are not necessarily required to draw a positive or negative inference from the principle – you may simply conclude the most workable option in a situation after applying the principle. In this case there are essentially two outcomes that you can choose from – saving as many people as possible which may leave 50 people to die (Option (a)), or not taking the measure at all (Options (b), (c) and (d) could lead to this conclusion). Therefore, Option (a) is the correct answer.

Handling questions without principles

Questions without principles are extremely rare, although in 1997 all the legal reasoning questions in Part B of the Legal Aptitude Section the NLS entrance exam did not have a principle. Except for that question paper, there are approximately 7 -8 questions in all the other years which did not have a principle.

Torina and Perina are adjoining nations. In Torina, just across the international boundary, a smelting industry is set up. The sulphur fumes discharged by this industry are seriously polluting air near the town Perto in Perina. Perina complains to Torina about the discharge of fumes.The dispute between Torina and Perina is submitted to arbitration for settlement. The following claims are being considered by the Arbitrators. Which one do you think is the most reasonable and fair? 

  1. Torina is a sovereign and independent state. It may use its territory in Whatsoever manner it likes. 
  2. Torina says Perina will have to suffer from sulphur because it is unavoidable in the industrial era. 
  3. All states must ensure that their territories must be used in such a manner as not to cause injury to the interest of other states. Hence Perina says that Torina must relocate the industry. 
  4. Perina agrees that Torina may use its territory in whatsoever manner it likes but insists that Torina should pay some compensation to Perina for loss they are continually suffering.

(NԼS 1997)

How should you prepare for legal reasoning questions which do not have a principle?

Attempting these questions requires you to use prior legal knowledge. However, you will gain familiarity with the most commonly asked principles as you practice solving problems from past years’ question papers, will equip you with sufficient knowledge of basic legal principles.

It is impossible to learn all applicable principles of law (even for lawyers), and hence apart from practicing past years’ question papers, there is no other way to prepare for these questions efficiently. You will waste too much time if you start preparing for such questions. Moreover, question paper setters rarely frame problems on the basis of an entirely new principle (which is not mentioned in the problem).

In case such a question comes in an exam, try to find the best possible answer using your existing knowledge, If you are not sure about an answer to such a question, mark the most appropriate option and move on to the next question.

How to solve a legal reasoning question in 7 steps

In a CLAT paper, you have to solve 50 questions on Legal Aptitude (if they stick to the rules declared), which includes questions on legal reasoning. The number of questions on legal reasoning can vary in a particular exam.

Legal reasoning can be extremely time-consuming, and is an area where you can gain a lead over the competition, with the correct preparation and method. In this video we will deal with the method that should adopted for solving legal reasoning questions.

 What are the ingredients for acing the legal reasoning section in a law entrance exam such as the CLAT?

Most conventional coaching classes will teach you that your performance is determined by prior preparation (which was done before the exam). Some place emphasis on improving your reading speed, so that you can attempt the questions faster.

What if you can rapidly increase your accuracy rate as well as speed drastically just by tweaking the process of solving legal reasoning problems? We will teach you the optimal method of solving legal reasoning, which never fails and always helps you to solve questions faster than any other possible method.

Our research shows that almost 30% students answer legal reasoning questions based on hunch and do not have any systematic method to solving these questions. Also, this is why, most students have terrible accuracy rates – most getting around 40-50% questions right. This is a dangerous proposition especially in the face of negative marking – which has been introduced for the first time this year. It is very important to move on from the shooting in the dark model to a methodical approach to solving legal reasoning questions. 

What is this `optimal method’?

Most students read a problem a legal reasoning question way, first, the principle, then the facts, and last, the options. After reading the facts, they usually go back to reading the principle – trying to understand its impact. Then they read principles one by one, and keep referring to the facts and principle again and again, trying to see if the options seem to be correct.

To choose the correct option, most students read the principle and facts several times over, thus spending too much time in solving the question. This is a very inefficient way to solve these questions.

What if you could optimize your method so that you are required to spend less time on reading the facts? What if you could devises technique so that your eyes instantly catch the relevant facts in a problem? What if you didn’t have to read the facts, principles and options again and again?

Fortunately for you, there is a simple, time saving and efficient way to solve legal reasoning questions, If you follow this method, it will save your valuable time, and even increase your accuracy. This optimal method consists of 7 simple steps.

Step 1: Read the principle. Soms problems states the facts first and then the principle, Do not follow the order in which the question is written, and read the principle first in all cases. Make sure you understand the overall meaning of the principles. 

Step 2: Read the options next. DO NOT READ THE FACTS.

Step 3: Eliminate the options which are (1) inconsistent with the principles and (2) does not have any application or Correspondence with the principles.

Step 4: If it is possible to eliminate 3 options in this way, then you would be left with just one. This would be the correct option. If you see old NLSIU papers, almost 50% questions can be solved in this way. Yes, you do not even need to read the facts in that case at all. You just mark the only option which is not inconsistent with principle or which has an application of the principle. In many cases, you would be able to eliminate only one or two options. In these cases, you need to read the facts next. Basically, after Step 3, you may have the answer already-in which case you are done and there’s no need to perform the steps after this, If you cannot narrow down to one option by eliminating other options, then you will move to step 5. For example, let’s consider the following question, We will not display the facts at this stage, as this is not the right time to read the facts, if you are trying applying the method we are teaching here:

Principle: A clear offer and acceptance lead to contractual Relationship.

(display only the principle and not the facts)

  1. The real Estate Agency becomes bound to sell the site to X, after quoting the price for it.
  2. Mere quotation of price will not bind the Real Estate Agency to sell the land to X.
  3. The Real Estate Agency may decline to sell the site but must compensate X for all the expenses incurred by him in making the enquiry.
  4. The Real Estate Agency may argue that it did not desire to sell the site to X, but X can prevent the anybody else.

(NLS 2003)

Analysis

The principle pertains to the ingredients that lead to a contractual relationship, so the correct option should contain a positive or negative inference on whether a contractual relationship existed between the parties.

Hence, Options (c) and (d), Option (c) mentions compensation, which is not mentioned in the principle, Both Option (c) and (d) are attempting to give ‘workable solutions’ and some kind of ‘alternative argument, rather than interpretations of the principle.

Therefore, after reading the principle, you can safely eliminate Options (c) and (d).

But you are left with Options (a) and (b), both of which correlate to the principle, Since you cannot narrow down to one option at this stage, you move on to the next step.

Step 5: Identify the difference between the options, is there a factual difference? Is there a logical difference? Usually there will be a factual difference mentioned in the options themselves. Sometimes, in rare cases, the factual difference will not be apparent in the options themselves. However, you read the two (very rarely three) options carefully. 

For example, let’s consider a question we have discussed elsewhere in this chapter too:

 Principle: A clear offer and acceptance lead to contractual Relationship.

  1. The real Estate Agency becomes bound to sell the site to X, after quoting the price for it.
  2. Mere quotation of price will not bind the Real Estate Agency to sell the land to X.

(NLS 2003)

To choose between Options (a) and (5), you should first identify the difference in the Options, Both the options are referring to the same fect. the ‘quotation of the price’, but draw a different conclusion from the same. However, to determine whether there was a clear offer and acceptance, you will need to understand the broader factual context. This takes us to Steps 6.

Step 6: Now, you can venture into reading facts for the first time to determine which one of the options is correct. While reading the facts, you will immediately know which facts are relevant as you have already read the options. In the fact situation, there are likely to be many irrelevant facts which you can completely ignore. While reading facts, you will not be wasting time trying to absorb or considering the irrelevant facts, which makes your job easier and faster,.

Step 7: At this stage you will be able to choose the option with the correct application of principle. The correct option will alone have all of these qualities – a) it will have an application of the principle and b) it will represent the facts correctly, Choose the option that provides the best answer and move on.

To observe how Steps 6 and 7 apply, let’s take the problem we were trying to solve earlier, For a recap, we need to choose which one of the following options is correct:

  1. The real Estate Agency becomes bound to sell the site to X, after quoting the price for it. 
  2. Mere quotation of price will not bind the Real Estate Agency to sell the land to X. 
  3. After reading the options above, you know that you are looking for the circumstances around which the price quotation’ was made, and you will filter all other irrelevant facts. 

Let’s read the facts now.

Facts: A fax message from X to a Real Estate Agency read: “Will you sell 60 x 40 pieced of lane at Nagarbhavi to me? Quote the lowest price”. The Real Estate Agency replied “The lowest price for a site measuring 60 x 40 dimensions at Nagarbhavi is Rs. 15,00,000”. The following fax from X to the Estate Agency read: “I agree to buy the site for Rs. 15,00,000 quoted by you. Please send me all the legal documents of the site”. Which of the following inferences is correct?

When you read the facts, you will only look for the circumstances surrounding the quotation that was furnished. Upon reading the facts, you will immediately realize that the quotation from the Real Estate Agency merely mentioned the price, but it did not convey its willingness to sell the property. Hence, option (b) is the correct option.

A quick recap here – we have explained above in step 3 of the method that you should eliminate options that are inconsistent with the principle. How do you find out whether an option applies the principle or not? What if you cannot determine whether a particular option applies the principle by reading the ορtion ?

Sometimes, an option does not contain sufficient information, in which case you may not

be able to determine whether it is consistent with the principle or not simply by reading the principle, and you may have to read the facts as well. How do you find out whether an option is consistent with the principle? Under which circumstances are you required to read the facts to arrive at that determination? For this purpose, it is crucial to understand the anatomy of options to figure out whether there has been any application of principle. 

An option has two elements – the outcome (O) and the reason (R).

Note that some options come with only outcome – in which case you cannot rule out such options, If the reasoning is not written in the option itself, you cannot see if the principle has an application immediately, In that case, you have no choice but to read the facts to see if the outcome suggested can be brought about by applying the principle to the facts.

Let us take an example to identify the Outcome and the Reason component in the questions: 

Example 1

Principle: The owner of immovable property is entitled to the column of airspace above the surface, However, the owner’s right to air and space above his land is restricted to such height as is necessary for the ordinary use and enjoyment of his land and the structures on it.

Facts: Galaxy cable TV Network Company is providing cable connections to their customers, One of the cables passes over the house of Mr. Vasanth Bhat. He is not a customer of the Network Company. The cable is neither attached to his house nor to any projection thereof. It is at a distance of 20 feet above the terrace of Mr. Bhat’s two storeyed house. Because of the cable, Mr. Bhat’s son Sachin is unable to fly skite from the terrace. Mr. Bhat requested the Network Company to change the position of the cable. But the company did not bother to change it. One evening Mr. Bhat cut the cable and cleared the airspace above his house. The Network company suffered a loss of about Rs. 1000/-. The brings legal action against Mr. Bhat for recovery of loss suffered.

  1. The Network company will succeed (O) because the cable was not interfering with the ordinary use and enjoyment of Mr. Bhat’s property (R).
  2. The Network company will not succeed (O) because Mr. Bhat has every right to ensure proper enjoyment of his property by removing objects causing trespass in the air above his property to a reasonable extent (R).
  3. The Network company will succeed (O) because laying cables is widely practised in all cities like electricity and telephone wires (R)

(NLS 1997) 

In this question, every option has an outcome and a reason. 

Example 2 

Principle-1: Master is liable for this act of the Employee/servant. 

Principle- 2: The husband or the wife are not responsible for any commission of wrong on each other.

Fact

H is a manager of a Hotel belonging to X. Because of the negligence of H, a folding chair fell from the first floor to the ground floor injuring the Receptionist of the Hotel, named W who is the wife of H. W ask for compensation from X and H. 

  1. Both X and H are responsible to compensate W (O). 
  2. X is only responsible to compensate W (O). 
  3. No one is responsible to compensate W (O). 

(NLS, 2000)

In this question, all the options are only outcome-based, and none of them have a reason. 

Example 3 

Principle: No legal relief exists for the breach of a wagering agreement.

Facts: Saukar, borrowed Rs. 25 lakhs from Imperial Bank for the purpose of running a gambling den. After suffering heavy losses he failed to repay the loan. 

Options

  1. The Bank may file a civil suit and successfully plead for recovery of loan amount from the personal properties of Saukar (Q).
  2. The Bank may issue a public notice to the effect that Saukar was bankrupt and people must avoid transacting business with him (Q).
  3. The Bank cannot recover any money from Saukar (Q) as the borrowing was for an illegal purpose (R).
  4. The Bank may complain the local police for the fraud of saukar and the latter can arrest him (Q).

(NLS 2003)

In this question, only one option has a reason, while all the other options are outcome-based.

The benefits of this method are following:

  • This is a structured reading of the problem – drastically reducing reading time
  • You eliminate irrelevant options without any application of the principles, therefore drastically reducing your chance of going astray due to misleading options, This method for this reason alone drastically increases the possibility of you gettings legal reasoning question right.
  • In all likelihood, you will now be able to select your answer in just one reading of the problem.
  • You will learn to identify the relevant facts and ignore the irrelevant facts. Over time, with some practice, your mind will subconsciously ignore the irrelevant facts which do not have a bearing on the answer.
  • If you follow this method, you tend focus on question solving skills rather than learning more and more law as taught in most coaching centres. This is a much more efficient way of learning legal reasoning.

List us demonstrate this method through some examples:

Example 1

Principle: A clear offer and acceptance lead to contractual Relationship.

Facts: A fax message from X to a Real Estate Agency read: “Will you sell 60 x 40 pieced of lane at Nagarbhavi to me? Quote the lowest price”. The Real Estate Agency replied: “The lowest price for a site measuring 60 x 40 dimensions at Nagarbhavi is Rs. 15,00,000”. The following fax from X to the Estate Agency read: “I agree to buy the site for Rs. 15,00,000 quoted by you. Please send me all the legal documents of the site”. Which of the following inferences is correct?

  1. The real Estate Agency becomes bound to sell the site to X, after quoting the price for it.
  2. Mere quotation of price will not bind the Real Estate Agency to sell the land to X.
  3. The Real Estate Agency may decline to sell the site but must compensate X for all the expenses incurred by him in making the enquiry.
  4. The Real Estate Agency may argue that it did not desire to sell the site to X, but X can prevent the Real Estate Agency from selling the same to anybody else.

(NLS 2003) 

Analysis

The principle pertains to the ingredients that lead to a contractual relationship, so the correct option should contain a positive or negative inference on whether a contractual relationship existed between the parties.

Options (c) and (d) are extraneous – Option (c) speaks of compensation, which is not mentioned in the principle, while Option (d) simply mentions vague inferences – neither of which can be concluded from the principle.

Once you read the facts again, you will realize that although the real estate agency quoted the price in its reply, it did not expressly agree to sell the land, Hence, option (b) is the correct option.

As discussed earlier, this method will not enable you to eliminate options when the options only contain the outcome (without a reason). However, you can still save valuable time by following the method, even for questions where the options are outcome-based, as your reading of the facts will become much sharper.

Let us see how you should use this method to solve questions which have outcome based options. For example, consider the following question:

Example 2

Facts are provided at the end.

Principles

  1. Manufacturer is liable for the latent defects in the goods manufactured by him.
  2. A seller is relieved of any liability for the defects in goods sold by him, if the purchaser chooses his goods by trade name and not by relying upon the judgment and skill of the seller. 

Options:

  1. Modern Bread company alone will be liable. 
  2. Rama stores alone will be liable.
  3. Both Modern Bread Company and Rama Stores will be liable.
  4. None of them will be liable, since Krishnan ought to have checked the bread before eating it. 

(NLS 1989)

If you read the options, you will realize that options 1 – 3 are entirely outcome based, and only Option (4) relates to the principle. However, that does not mean Option (4) is the correct answer. Since Options 1-3 are exclusively outcome-based, it is not possible to eliminate any of them without reading the facts. However, after reading the options, your reading of the facts will become much faster. You will learn (after reading the options itself) that you must find out whether Modern Bread or Rama Stores, or both could be liable, or whether Krishnan should have checked the bread earlier. Since you have read the principles, you will already be looking for these ingredients while reading the facts.

Now, go through the facts: 

Facts: (read them last)

Krishnam went to Rama Stores and asked the shopkeeper to give him a good bread, The shopkeeper replied: “People normally buy Modern Bread from me”. Krishnam bought a packet of Modern Bread. It so happened that there was a stone embedded in one of the bread slices and it broke Krishnan’s teeth, while eating the bread, Krishnan seeks compensation from Rams Stores and Modern Bread Company.

Hence, on application of Principle (a), Modern Bread is liable and on application of Principle (b), we find that Rama Stores is not liable, as this was a latent defect in a good sold by trade name.

Let’s take another example to see how to solves problem in which there are several outcome-based options: 

Example 3

Principle: Agreement by way of wager is void and no suit lies for recovering anything won by such wager.

Facts: Mr. X and Mrs. Y enter into a contract with Raman who is an expert in betting on horse racing, Both pay a sum of Rs.2,000/- to Raman to bet on a particular horse. Raman followed the instructions and he won a sum of Rs.20 lakhs.

  1. Raman has to pay Rs.20 lakhs to Mr. X and Mrs. Y
  2. Raman can divide Rs.20 lakhs into three parts and share it equally with Mr. X and Mrs. Y
  3. Raman can keep Rs.15 lakhs and give 5 lakhs to Mr. X and Mrs. Y
  4. Raman need not give anything to Mr. X and Mrs. Y as this agreement is not Enforceable

 (NLS, 2007)

 Analysis

Let’s try to solve this question – the principle is talking about agreements of wager and the rule says that such agreements are void, Please note that it is important at this stage to know what is a wager – otherwise it is going to be difficult to solve this question.

 Let’s take a look at the options now.

Option (a) has no reason but just an outcome, so one cannot eliminate it at this stage.

Options (b) and (c) are outcome-based but are introducing solutions not consistent with the principle, as the principle does not mention dividing any money. It is highly likely that these will be incorrect, but since they are outcome-based, we will park them for the time being.

Option (d) corresponds to the principle so there is a high probability that this could be the answer, but we need to read the facts. After we read the facts, we realize that this is squarely a wagering agreement, Our initial premonition that it could be (d) is confirmed.

Your ability to solve these questions in this way will drastically improve as you keep practising solving more questions independently in this way.

Please note that we shall teach you more about reading principles, understanding what are the relevant facts and also about different types of options, which will increase your understanding of these problems and level of accuracy.


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