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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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PRINTED FROM HONG KONG SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.hongkong.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Hong Kong University Press, 2022. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in HKSO for personal use.date: 17 May 2022

Vagueness and Indeterminacy in Law

Vagueness and Indeterminacy in Law

(p.144) (p.145) 7 Vagueness and Indeterminacy in Law
Legal Discourse across Cultures and Systems

Jan Engberg

Dorothee Heller

Hong Kong University Press

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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