Category Archives: Legal interpretation

Modern Statutory Interpretation

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A Note From the SLS 2016 Conference at Oxford.

Every student of law will know about the ‘sources of law’: statues, judicial reasoning, European legislation and cases.  They will be familiar with the cannons of statutory interpretation, the so called Literal, Golden and Mischief rules, purposive and contextual interpretation.   

All students  will have studied how under our constitutional settlement, the  judges interpret and apply statutes such as to articulate the will of the democratically legitimated Parliament,  (the supreme law making body), how the judges attempt to discern the will of Parliament reconciling  that with their judicial obligation to serve justice and the principles of legality.

It is apparent that modern law-making in common law jurisdictions comes from a constant recurring argument and debate between Parliament, the judges and legal academics.  In this spirit of a debate the conference offered a distinguished panel vividly embodying the dynamic of the ‘law making’ conversation. On the panel chaired by Lady Justice Arden the speakers were Lord Justice Sales, Professor John Bell from Cambridge and Daniel Greenberg a former Parliamentary Counsel.

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Filed under Carl Schmitt, Contextual Interpretation, Democracy, Giorgio Agamben State of Exception, Hansard, Legal interpretation, Parliamentary sovereignty, Pepper v Hart, Rule of Law, Society of Legal Scholars, Statutory interpretation, Uncategorized

A Short Note on Interpretation of Legal Texts.

Explosion“In the final analysis, it’s my assessment that this worthwhile opportunity to humanly rehabilitate effectively enough, now is nigh. Enough over-zealous legal deterrence. Continuation of my punishment thus only negates society’s tentative reforms, exceeding equitable treatment.”

So writes Harry Starks in the fictional letter to The Times [1]. We can interpret Starks’s letter on two levels: as a fictional letter in itself implicitly accepting its veracity as a self-contained text colluding with the author, or on another level as a piece of allegedly external (true) text located within a piece of fiction, in collusion with the fictional character. What are we to do? We can read the letter as an independent self-contained text in itself yet at the same time, when the text ceases to have any obvious connection with our-known reality, as a coded message to the internal logic and plot of the fictional piece of work, reflecting the author’s own reality. Continue reading

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