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Vagueness in Normative Texts


Vijay K. Bhatia, Jan Engberg, Maurizio Gotti and Dorothee Heller

Normative texts are meant to be highly impersonal and decontextualised, yet at the same time they also deal with a range of human behaviour that is difficult to predict, which means they have to have a very high degree of determinacy on the one hand, and all-inclusiveness on the other. This poses a dilemma for the writer and interpreter of normative texts. The author of such texts must be determinate and vague at the same time, depending upon to what extent he or she can predict every conceivable contingency that may arise in the application of what he or she writes. The papers in this volume discuss important legal and linguistic aspects relating to the use of vagueness in legal drafting and demonstrate why such aspects are critical to our understanding of the way normative texts function.
Contents: V. Bhatia/J. Engberg/M. Gotti/D. Heller: Introduction – Timothy Endicott: The Value of Vagueness – Markus Nussbaumer: Zwischen Rechtsgrundsätzen und Formularsammlung: Gesetze brauchen (gute) Vagheit zum Atmen – Lawrence M. Solan: Vagueness and Ambiguity in Legal Interpretation – Pierre A. Karrer: Unbestimmtheit und Unvollständigkeit in Vereinbarungstexten und ihre Überwindung durch die Internationale Schiedsgerichtsbarkeit – Peter M. Tiersma: Categorical Lists in the Law – Celina Frade: Legal Multinomials: Recovering Possible Meanings from Vague Tags – Ruth Vatvedt Fjeld: The Lexical Semantics of Vague Adjectives in Normative Texts – Anne Wagner: Semiotic Analysis of the Multistage Dynamic at the Core of Indeterminacy in Legal Language – Christopher Williams: Vagueness in Legal Texts: Is There a Future for Shall? – Maurizio Gotti: Vagueness in the Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration – Giuseppina Cortese: Indeterminacy in ‘Rainbow’ Legislation: The Convention on the Rights of the Child – Girolamo Tessuto: Ambiguity and Vagueness in Human Rights Discourse – Martin Solly: Vagueness in the Discourse of Insurance: The Case of the Marine Insurance Act 1906 – Vijay K. Bhatia: Specificity and Generality in Legislative Expression: Two Sides of the Coin – Dorothee Heller: Zwischen Bestimmtheit und strategischer Offenheit: Zur sprachlichen Qualifizierung deutscher und schweizerischer Sanktionsnormen – Marta Chromá: Indeterminacy in Criminal Legislation: A Translator’s Perspective – Anna Giordano Ciancio: Fairness in Consumer Law: A Vague, Flexible Notion – Davide Simone Giannoni: ‘Any dispute shall be settled by arbitration’: A Study of Vagueness in International Model Arbitration Clauses.