How To Detect Ambiguity in Statute Law and Common Law

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Legal education pays little attention to ambiguity. This leads to neglect of two important aspects of ambiguity.
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by Christopher Enright

Legal education pays little attention to ambiguity. This leads to neglect of two important aspects of ambiguity:

  1. Explaining the various forms that ambiguity can take.
  2. Developing ways of identifying ambiguity.

This book seeks to address these problems:

  1. It explains a method for determining if there is an issue of interpretation. Discussion of this task is a noticeable absence from the much used IRAC method for answering a problem question.
  2. The book presents a method for lawyers to use once they have detected that there is an issue. At this point a lawyer has to define the ambiguity by identifying the meanings that constitute the ambiguity. There are three methods – using a dictionary, using the ambiguous words in a range of contexts as a way of identifying how far the meaning stretches and using a catalogue of common forms of ambiguity as a prompt. This catalogue includes the special form of ambiguity known as implication where a text may implicitly require that something be added to or subtracted from the text as the legislature has enacted it.

118 pages softcover

View a sample of this book.

About the Author
Christopher Enright is a chartered accountant, barrister and solicitor. He has lectured in law at several universities. He specialises in legal method.