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Legal Discourse across Cultures and Systems$
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Vijay K. Bhatia, Christopher N. Candlin, and Jan Engberg

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9789622098510

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789622098510.001.0001

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Vagueness and Indeterminacy in Law

Vagueness and Indeterminacy in Law

Chapter:
(p.144) (p.145) 7 Vagueness and Indeterminacy in Law
Source:
Legal Discourse across Cultures and Systems
Author(s):

Jan Engberg

Dorothee Heller

Publisher:
Hong Kong University Press
DOI:10.5790/hongkong/9789622098510.003.0007

Vagueness and indeterminacy in statutory texts create a dilemma in law. The basic assumption is that society must be governed by the rule of law and not on the basis of individual beliefs or actions. However, it is also obvious that indeterminacy and vagueness are typically inherent characteristics of law, thus making interpretation a necessary and important aspect of legal application. This chapter investigates vague expressions in arbitration laws and claims that they are typically essential as discretion markers because the flexible nature of arbitration discourse makes relatively more room for interpretation. It argues that qualifying expressions, although integral features of legislative provisions, do not necessarily eliminate vagueness. This is chiefly because of the presence of “internal” qualifiers which contribute significantly to the negotiation of scope and application.

Keywords:   rule of law, law interpretation, statutory texts, arbitration laws, discretion markers, internal qualifiers

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