A legal opinion is a written statement by a judicial officer, legal expert or a court as to the illegibility or legibility of a condition, intendant or action. In business, an opinion letter represents the opinion giver’s professional understanding of a particular aspect of a transaction or a specific transaction based on legal principles.
The letter can also be said to as an opinion of how the highest court of jurisdiction would resolve the issues expressed in the letter. Professional understanding of the issue relies on the law at the date of writing. However, the opinions expressed in the letter are not a guarantee of a particular outcome.
Purpose of opinion letters
- To satisfy contractual agreements: This is common when the opinion letter is issued for among other occasions, to an investor concerning the sale of securities
- Lawfulness of an action: Opinion letters are given when you want to know if an action is lawful or if the action will lead to desired legal consequences.
- Answer questions: They also address the question raised by other professional. They, therefore, provide an authoritative basis for reports, opinions, and reports on matters where other professionals lack the professional capability to make judgments.
Another purpose is to satisfy regulatory requirements.
How to Write an Opinion Letter
An opinion letter is useful before you get into a transaction. It is written before one enters, litigates or defends transactions. An opinion letter must address all the questions that the client wants to be answered. The reason why a client has the question is that they are confused about an issue and they want professional guidance in the area.
So when writing the letter, you must clarify all the areas of concern. Most of the time, the clients approach you with an unclear question. So, when drafting the questions, make them more sensible. Ensure that you phrase them in a way that communicates the client’s issues but in a more clear and understandable way.
- State the facts: The facts are the answers to the client’s questions. The facts should answer the questions with a ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Any fact that has not been supplied should not be included in the narration. However, any natural interface or presumption you have made from the facts must be included. Do not forget to mention that the interface or presumptions are your personal opinions.
- Analysis: For an easy analysis, first set out the provision of the law and the law itself. After that, summarize the jurisdiction of the High Court or the Supreme Court over the issue at hand. Cite all the extracts. For an ultimate opinion, chose precise extracts on which to base your judgment. The analysis should include conditions necessary for a positive or negative answer. Besides, advise the client on steps to take when they find themselves in similar situations again. At this point, indicate to your client where they stand in regards to the law applicable. To simplify the analysis process, number all previous paragraphs. This will relieve you of the burden of repeating previously written information.
- Answer the query: To answer the query, you will rely on the fact and analysis sections. The answers should be either ‘yes’ or ‘no’. However, when the monosyllabic answers cannot apply, keep the answers short and to the point.
- Usual disclaimers: Disclaimers can save you from being reported for malpractice if your opinion is wrong. Under the disclaimer, write that the opinions provided are based on the law as per the time of drafting the opinion. Moreover, indicate that the opinion is also based on the documents and facts provided. List all the documents that the clients provided for the sake of drafting the legal opinion.