- 5-Year B.A., LL.B. (Hons.)
- Nov 2022
- Core Course
In this course, we will investigate this art, or science, of interpretation by asking three sets of questions.
The first set is epistemic, where we will consider the nature of interpretation in general, aside from legal interpretation: how can one know the true meaning of a text? Beyond linguistic conventions, how does one divine the intention of the author? What if the context in which the text was written is different from, or even at odds with, the context in which the question comes up before the judge? Given disagreement, is there always a single right answer to all interpretative questions, or can there be a plurality of right answers? Or is it a matter for relative appreciation, without any claim to objective truth?
The second set is legal: is there something special about legal interpretation, as opposed to interpretation in general, say in literature? What are the techniques, cannons and schools of legal interpretation? What happens when legislations are silent or ambiguous, or when they were written in circumstances different to those presented to the judge? Can judges read in or add text? Can they ignore or change it?
The third set is political: should moral, social, economic or political convictions of judges affect their interpretation? Do they? What do we make of the feminist, realist and critical legal schools of thought on the role of judicial interpretation? Is there a universal framework to legal interpretation, or does it depend on the cultural or ideological of the environment in which we operate?