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Dear 2013 Commercial Law Students:
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To provide you with some guidance in relation to preparing answers to legal problems, below are the following: -------------------------------------------------

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- A past exam question in this course, which was also set as an assignment in a previous year; -------------------------------------------------
- Tips – common mistakes to avoid and suggestions for improving your answers; -------------------------------------------------
- The answer guide to the question, which was provided to students in a previous year. -------------------------------------------------

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Note - the specific issues relevant to answering the question below are not necessarily relevant to your assignment question. Rather, the purpose of providing the material below is to develop and improve your general skills in relation to answering legal problems. -------------------------------------------------

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Sonali Walpola
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Pacific Oil Ltd (Pacific), a manufacturer of petroleum products, acquired a vacant block of land for the purpose of operating a petrol station. The block was on a very busy street, and Pacific estimated that 800,000 litres of petrol per year could be sold from this location. However, the planning authority refused to allow Pacific to build the station so that it fronted (faced) the street (the forecasted petrol sales were based on the assumption that the petrol station fronted the busy street). Instead, the petrol station was hidden behind a building, with only a sign on the busy street directing the customers to the petrol station. Pacific did not change their estimate of likely petrol sales. Pacific entered into contractual negotiations to lease the petrol station to Jones. Pacific’s representatives orally advised Jones during negotiations that the petrol station’s sales would soon reach 800,000 litres per year. Jones signed an agreement with Pacific to lease the petrol station for five years. The written lease agreement does not contain any reference to likely petrol sales.

Jones has now been operating the petrol station for just over one year. Petrol sales for the first year were significantly less than Pacific’s estimate and Jones has been having difficulty in paying the rent. Advise Jones whether he can take any legal action against Pacific.

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Common Mistakes – “what not to do”
*Do not restate facts of the set problem – assume the examiner knows all aspects of what occurred in the problem. *In general, do not describe the facts of cases you cite as authority to support your answer. For instance, in relation to this problem, you can simply cite Waltons v Maher as authority for the test for promissory estoppel without actually discussing what happened in that case. Occasionally, it may be appropriate to refer briefly to some aspect of the facts of a case – where a case is either identical in its material facts to the set problem (so that the same result should apply) or where there is a case which appears similar but is different in some important aspect (so that a different result should apply).

Tips
Style and structure
*Begin your answer with a brief introduction which states what legal action/s you think are relevant to the problem. In some problems, there may be only one relevant legal action and if so, you simply need one sentence that states this. *Use headings (and sub-headings if appropriate) in your answer. It makes sense to have a heading for each legal action you think is relevant e.g. here first heading is ‘negligent misstatement’,...
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