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Closing Statements

A closing statement or closing speech is a key part of any proceeding. It may even prove to be the pivotal moment. As the opening speech introduces the case theory, the closing speech must tell the story of how the evidence and law points to the conclusion the judges should reach. In other words, the closing statement is where the advocate draws together the entire case, without repeating it.

 

The closing speech must engage. It must persuade. A good closing statement summarises the evidence, points to reasonable inferences to be drawn by the judges, attacks the weaknesses in the opposing party’s case, presents key legal arguments, and calls the judges to action.

 

At international courts and tribunals the closing statement comes after a lengthy proceeding, sometimes after years of trial. It must leave an impression. Often, in the highly publicised proceedings, the advocate is speaking to multiple audiences—to the judges, but also to the public, the victims, the media, and the international legal community.