The judgment in Stack v Dowden [2007] UKHL 17 came amidst much criticism about the uncertainty which faces unmarried couples upon the breakdown of their relationship. The case establishes a new framework within which future cases about cohabitants’ rights are to be decided, which it is suggested will lead to greater certainty and simplicity. Critically assess the impact of Stack v Dowden in the light of case law decided both before it and afterwards.

Assessment criteria

Whenever you are assessed in a law module at London Met you should always bear in mind the general mark classification criteria:

  • 1st – 70%+ indicates work of an exceptional nature with clear indications of understanding and knowledge of a wide range of theoretical and critical positions. Work will be written with flair, style and technical precision;
  • 1 – 60-69% indicates work exhibiting a sound understanding of basic principles and relevant detail with supporting examples and authority which is presented within a clear, coherent and convincing argument. There will be evidence of analytical ability and there will be no major errors or omissions;
  • 2 – 50-59% indicates work which is substantially correct and shows an understanding of the basic principles involved in the subject. It will be fluently written and will show some evidence of reading of primary and secondary sources. Discussion points may not be fully developed or articulated and/or there may be a major omission. 2.2 work is good but may lack the inventiveness or broad coverage of the higher mark bands;
  • 3rd – 40-49% indicates a basic understanding of the main issues but is mainly descriptive rather than analytical. This work is usually generalised and without real argument or conceptual insight. It may not answer the question directly, may miss key points and lack authority and evidence;
  • Less than 40% – Fail. A borderline fail (35-39) does not cover enough relevant detail, may be poorly presented and lacks any development of argument. But it may have some grasp of what is demanded without showing an understanding of the issues. A clear fail (less than 35%) suggests that the student does not know the material or understand the demands of the question. Some marks will usually be awarded where there is some attempt to answer the question.


In addition to the broad mark-band criteria above used across all law subjects, the Land law   marking team will be paying particular attention to the following assessment criteria to grade your coursework:

  • Demonstration of an awareness and depth of understanding of the main substantive issues of Land law;
  • The application of gained legal knowledge to problem scenarios or discursive essay structure (knowledge acquisition and research skills, as well as evaluative and analytical skills), the reflection upon and evaluation of this application, and the drawing of logical reasoned conclusions;
  • Referencing and the use of relevant legal sources (demonstrate this by using appropriate cases, statutes and academic articles to support your arguments);
  • Developing arguments with supporting legal authority;
  • &νβσπ;Structure (a coherent and cogent presentation of the answer);
  • Written communication skills (spelling, grammar, punctuation and appropriate legal terminology).


Does the coursework answer:

  • Identify and discuss the relevant legal concepts?
  • &νβσπ;Identify and coherently examine any relevant policy issues?
  • Demonstrate an ability to apply knowledge to the stated problem?
  • Draw reasoned conclusions that are supported by argument and legal authority?
  • Produce an accurate and up-to-date picture of the law in this area?
  • Use appropriate terminology and language for a formal coursework answer?
  • Show an ability to present an analytical argument in a comprehensible manner?


Some advice:

  • Do not over-use the facts of decided cases.
  • Use judicial quotes but do not over-quote. Keep them short and punchy.
  • Your work should show significant critical analysis rather than be merely descriptive.
  • There should be evidence of research beyond the core textbook and lecture notes.
  • You should reference to authorities or sources throughout the essay. Chose a recognised method of referencing (normally footnotes) and stick to the same style of reference presentation (see OSCOLA Guide for assistance)
  • You should take great care with the language, syntax and general exposition of your essay.
  • High marks will only be awarded where the essay shows an authority of style and precision of language.