LAW 131 - Legal Method

Credit points: 15 points
Offered: Second Semester
Contact hours: Lectures - 3 hours per week, 5 tutorials - 1 hour per fortnight
Course Director: Professor Mark Henaghan
Prerequisites: LAW 121G with a minimum B- grade

Course description

An introductory study of how law is made and applied in New Zealand - an overview of the law-making roles of the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government; an introduction to case law, including judicial reasoning and the doctrine of precedent; an introduction to statute law, including the techniques of statutory interpretation and application; the interaction between case law and legislation.

Content outline

  • An introduction to the structure of government and the sources of law
  • An introduction to case law and the hierarchy of courts
  • An introduction to judicial reasoning and the doctrine of precedent
  • An introduction to statute law and statutory interpretation
  • The interaction between case law and statute law


  • 1 hour closed-book test
  • 2 hour closed-book exam

Plussage is applicable to LAW 131. Plussage is a system that enables the best possible final mark for a course providing the requirements are met.

Students must achieve a minimum of 45% in the examination for plussage to apply.

All coursework must be completed for plussage to apply.

If a student does not achieve a minimum of 45% in the examination, and/or does not complete the test, plussage will not apply. The mark for the course will be based 100% on the exam.

If a student completes the test, and achieves at least 45% in the exam, they are eligible for plussage.

The mark will be calculated by: EITHER test (20%) and exam (80%); OR exam (100%); whichever results in the higher grade.

Recommended text

S Penk and M Russell, New Zealand Legal Method Handbook (2014)

J Ruru, K Sanders and D Webb, The New Zealand Legal System (6th ed, 2016)