“The brief of arguments of the appellants
consisted of forty-two pages. It was unnecessarily long, windy, confused,
confusing, repetitive, and it contained too many narratives rather than
….. The brief of arguments
of the appellants in this appeal is a clear example of how not to draft a brief
of arguments”
Abiru, J.C.A.
Nagebu Co (Nig.) Ltd v. Uniy Bank Plc [2014]7 NWLR(Part 1405) 42

The above quote is the comment of
a Honourable Judge on the brief of argument of one of the parties in the suit,
well if you cannot recognise one, this is a classic bench slap and I wonder how
the lawyer must have felt listening to the Justice in open court, if it were
me, I will ask the floor to split open and swallow me whole have been slightly
embarrassed, well maybe not slightly. 
In the legal profession, there
happens to be a lot of writing, that’s why one of the invaluable assets that a
counsel must always possess is good drafting skills. Briefs of arguments contain
the story of a party on which the courts Justices are called upon to
adjudicate. Like all good stories, the arguments in brief must flow; they must
be consistent, they must be concise, they must be comprehensive, they must be
comprehensible; and they must be accurate. 
Some of the eternal qualities of
a good brief of arguments are brevity and precision, no one wants to read pages
of unnecessary information that will not help a client or like some lawyers do,
include lines from popular poems or dramas. A brief of argument must not be too
short as to leave out the essentials and must not be too long as to become
otiose. The goal must be to achieve maximum brevity consistent with accuracy
and clarity. 
A good brief does not allow for
verbosity and must be a succinct statement of a party’s argument in the appeal.
A well crafted brief makes for joyful reading while a badly crafted one is
tedious and laborious to understand and it is like a bad story which leaves an
audience disgruntled, disgusted and unhappy. This point was well made by the
Supreme Court in Ports & Cargo Handling services Company Limited & 3 Ors v.
Migfo Nigeria Ltd. & Anor (2013) 3 NWLR (Pt. 1333) 555 at para. G where
, JSC stated thus:
“A brief of argument has the connotation of a really concise and succinct
expression of the appellant’s complaint and the respondent’s reaction on the
issue or issues presented to the court for consideration. Clarity, simplicity
and directness of expression are the hallmarks of a good brief. ‘Although the
rules of the Supreme Court do not limit a party to a number of pages in a brief
of argument, the brief should not be unnecessarily voluminous and contain
repetitive arguments of the issues settled.”
Counsel must understand that a
long and windy brief is discouraging to the court Justices saddled with the
determination of an appeal and can only amount to disservice to the cause of a
litigant. Litigation is not a long essay competition where success is
determined by the length of the brief of arguments and it has been said that repetition
does not improve an argument – Uwazurike v. Nwachukwu (2013) 3 NWLR (Pt.
1342) 503
The court of Appeal, speaking on
the necessary drafting skills a counsel must possess, said in SCOA
(Nig) plc v. Danbatta (2002) 13 NWLR (Pt. 785) 461 at 472 paras. D –F
“Drafting is an important tool in advocacy. A solicitor who could not
resent his client’s case clearly in the brief, if it is a case in the appellate
courts, or in the pleadings, if it is a case before the High Court or Federal
High Court, could not adequately represent the interest of his clients. An
otherwise good case is destroyed and lost by bad pleadings, …counsel should
pay more attention to drafting as no counsel could be good and make marks in
advocacy if he is poor in drafting mechanism”.  
As a lawyer,
being excellent at brief writing sounds like an awesome advantage but it takes
a lot more than wishes to make it happen. There is no substitute for committing
to perfecting both your written and spoken English by reading more, learning
new words and writing over and over and over again. Don’t forget that practise
makes perfect.