Obscurity and Clarity in the Law: Prospects and Challenges, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Obscurity and Clarity in the Law

Prospects and Challenges, 1st Edition

By Sophie Cacciaguidi-Fahy

Edited by Anne Wagner


284 pages

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This book explores the intricate and multi-dimensional conception of clarity and obscurity in the law. It presents and examines the most recent research and theories, giving practical guidance on how to avoid obscurity in legal drafting and its impact on legal interpretation. The book is aimed at a multidisciplinary audience and seeks to promote an interdisciplinary debate on clarity, law and language, calling for the moving of clarity beyond the study of plain language. The aims of the book are thus two fold. The first is to critically reach a nexus between the disciplines of law and language with respect to the debates on clarity in legal discourse. The second is to achieve an international perspective on the issue, drawing from a wide range of legal and political contexts.


'What happens when plain language advocates meet experts in law, semiotics, and linguistics? Read this book to find out! Using examples from Chinese, English, Finnish, French, Swedish, and other languages, and representing both civil and common-law jurisdictions, the authors of the essays in this book explain why clarity is in theory so important to the rule of law, but also why in practice it can be so elusive.' Peter Tiersma, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles , USA and author of Legal Language 'This carefully edited book fuses linguistic and legal concepts and combines theoretical and practical perspectives. The contributors explore developments in Europe, North America and Australia and introduce less studied legal cultures such as Africa and China; as well as global settings such as international arbitration. Obscurity and Clarity in the Law is recommended to all readers interested in the problems of legal language, irrespective of their professional background. Heikki E. S. Mattila, University of Lapland, Finland and author of Comparative Legal Linguistics '…I would certainly recommend this volume to legal linguists because, as a whole, it is well-balanced and carefully thought out, with an interesting selection of papers.' International Journal for the Semiotics of Law

Table of Contents

Contents: Foreword; Introduction: the chiaroscuro of legal language, Sophie Cacciaguidi-Fahy and Anne Wagner; Part 1 Crossroads Between Law and Language: The ambiguous principle of the clarity of the law, Alexandre Flückiger; Objectivity and subjectivity in interpretation, James Kessler; Rules and statements, Louis E. Wolcher; Unravelling the legislator's tapestry: judicial needlework on encroachment cases, Anne-Françoise Debruche; Customising the model law on international commercial arbitration, Maurizio Gotti; Is the Chinese legal language more ambiguous and vaguer? Deborah Cao. Part 2 An International Perspective: Conceptual and textual structure in legislative texts, Andreas Lötscher; Finland makes its statutes intelligible: good intentions and practicalities, Aino Piehl; The Swedish approach to clear legislation and clear official texts, Barbro Ehrenberg-Sundin; What, how, when and why - making laws easier to understand by using examples and notes, Ben Piper; The illusion of clarity - a critique of 'pure' clarity using examples drawn from judicial interpretations of the Constitution of the United States, M. Douglass Bellis; Between obscurity and clarity in Nigerian legal discourse: aspects of language use in selected written texts, Tunde Opeibi; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author/Editor

Anne Wagner, is an Associate Professor in Applied Linguistics., Université du Littoral Côte d'Opale, France and Sophie Cacciaguidi-Fahy is a lecturer in law at the National University of Ireland, Galway

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / General
LAW / Jurisprudence