This site uses cookies.

A reminder to practitioners about the importance of skeleton arguments: Masih & Anor v Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust [2023] EWHC 1280 (KB) - Anisa Kassamali, Temple Garden Chambers

06/06/23. A judgment handed down by Ritchie J reminds practitioners about the appropriate role of skeleton arguments in proceedings.

The Appellant had been granted permission to appeal in relation to a “complicated clinical negligence case” [33]. However, permission had only been granted on a number of grounds. There were also a number of grounds in respect of which no permission was granted.

Comments in relation to the skeleton argument and speaking note

Ritchie J took the opportunity in his judgment to deliver comments which may be of broader interest to practitioners working on such claims. He observed as follows at [34] – [36]:

“34. On the day of the hearing the Appellants’ counsel sent my clerk (but did not C-efile) a document entitled “speaking note” which was used for his oral submissions. This did not separate out the grounds on which the Appellants had permission to appeal and concentrate on them, but instead dealt with all the original grounds, many of which, as set out above, the Appellants’ had no permission to appeal upon. The Appellants’ skeleton argument was not followed.

35. The ‘speaking note’ was of little assistance to the Court in this appeal save as to the bundle references therein. It was an attempt to put in a supplementary skeleton argument and to avoid the need for permission to do so.

36. I consider that the purpose of a skeleton argument is to argue out and fulfil the permitted grounds of appeal. It gives the Respondent notice of the case it has to meet. It informs the Court in advance of the arguments in the appeal. It is not a formality to be abandoned at the hearing by use of a speaking note.”


Ritchie J’s comments serve as a warning to practitioners about the role of the skeleton argument. This is not a document to be prepared in haste, but is a document which should comprehensively set out the party’s case.

Image ©

All information on this site was believed to be correct by the relevant authors at the time of writing. All content is for information purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. No liability is accepted by either the publisher or the author(s) for any errors or omissions (whether negligent or not) that it may contain. 

The opinions expressed in the articles are the authors' own, not those of Law Brief Publishing Ltd, and are not necessarily commensurate with general legal or medico-legal expert consensus of opinion and/or literature. Any medical content is not exhaustive but at a level for the non-medical reader to understand. 

Professional advice should always be obtained before applying any information to particular circumstances.

Excerpts from judgments and statutes are Crown copyright. Any Crown Copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of OPSI and the Queen’s Printer for Scotland under the Open Government Licence.