Using IRAC – to solve problems & to read cases.

What is IRAC?

IRAC (IssueRuleAnalysis, and Conclusion) forms the fundamental building blocks of legal analysis. It is the process by which lawyers think about any legal problem. The beauty of IRAC is that it allows you to reduce the complexities of the law to a simple equation.

  • ISSUE: What facts and circumstances brought these parties to court?
  • RULE: What is the governing law for the issue?
  • ANALYSIS: Does the rule apply to these unique facts?
  • CONCLUSION: How does the court’s holding modify the rule of law?

IRAC is a commonly recommended ‘tool’ for addressing legal problem tasks. It is a great tool for:

  • Planning your responses to essay / problem questions;
  • Writing answers to problem questions under pressure in an exam
  • Organising your notes
  • Checking that you’ve covered all bases when reviewing an assignment.

IRAC is not always the best way to structure your writing – particularly in a complex assignment. IRAC is great for planning responses, organising your thoughts and making notes when you read cases

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Using IRAC (or (M)IRAC)

The following summarises the the process. You will note that we have included an additional step – identifying the material facts.

IRAC is also a helpful way to summarise cases. Keeping your notes in an IRAC format will help you index / sort them by issue. An example of a case analysis prepared using IRAC is set out below.

Example: using IRAC to make a case note:

Case NotesDonoghue v Stevenson [1932] AC 562
Key FactsMrs Donoghue drank Ginger beer containing the remains of a decomposing snail.  She brought an action against the manufacturer of the ginger beer.  The beverage was purchased by Mrs Donoghue’s friend at a café in Paisley.  The snail could not be seen in the bottle (it was opaque)
Key IssuesDoes the manufacturer have a duty of care to the end user of the product? Did P need to demonstrate that the D knew that the product was defective or dangerous?
Rules (applied)Case established what we refer to as the ‘duty of care’ or ‘neighbor’ principle in tort at common law.
Conclusion (Ratio / Legal Principle)Per Aitkin J “…a manufacturer of products, which he sells in such a form as to show that he intends them to reach the ultimate consumer in the form in which they left him with no reasonable possibility of intermediate examination, and with the knowledge that the absence of reasonable care in the preparation or putting up of the products will result in an injury to the consumer’s life or property, owes a duty to the consumer to take that reasonable care.” at “Who, then, in law is my neighbour? The answer seems to be – persons who are so closely and directly affected by my act that I ought reasonably to have them in contemplation as being so affected when I am directing my mind to the acts or omissions which are called in question. You must take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which you can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure your neighbour.” Donoghue v Stevenson [1932] AC 562 at 580
Per Aitkin J

Another popular legal problem solving method is referred to as MIRAT – and you might be able to see that the way I approach using IRAC is really a blend of IRAC and MIRAT.  Read more about MIRAT in this article Meet MIRAT: Legal Reasoning Fragmented into Learnable chunks