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LAWS214 Criminal Law | Formalism vs Purposivism

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This assignment requires research on Hart's and Fuller's account of adjudication.

The questions is:

Should judges be bound by the purpose of a law when they interpret it? Discuss this with reference to Hart’s and Fuller’s accounts of adjudication.

Answer:

This is a discussion that can be approached in more than a single way, where one is in support of the fact that judges be bound by the purpose of a law when they interpret it while the opposite side of the argument argues vice versa meaning that the judges need not be bound to the purpose of the law while interpreting it. Personally, am incline to also take my stand to the case in respect to knowledge gained regarding the duties of a judge and the purpose of the law. From the Hart’s and Fuller’s interpretation they clearly give different perspectives of the case that will be discussed within the essay to help one have a clear understanding of the statement as well as help picks a relevant stand to take and enough relevant information to support their stand. It is first important to identify my understanding of the statement and I do feel that the judges are bound by the purpose of the law when interpreting it but this should be determined by the nature of the case as seen from Harts interpretation that there are those cases in which the law can clearly be interpreted and concur with the case present which are referred to as the core and on the other hand, there are the hard case in which it is not clear whether the law can be interpreted directly and apply to the case. These have been identified as the penumbra. The nature of a case may end up conflicting with the purpose of the law as well as the interpretation of the law. In respect to Fuller’s law, the meaning of the words in a legal rule are determined by the purpose to which those words were put. It is evident that Fuller’s interpretation of the statement is completely in accordance with the fact that judges should be bound by the purpose of a law when they interpret it.

For the judges it is first important to understand the main function of the law. From this point it is possible to identify weather judges are either bound by the purpose of the law or not. As my personal stand was identified earlier, judges are bound by the purpose of the law, they are to interpreted the meaning of the law in regard to the case at hand then ensure the interpretation reflect the purpose of the particular law. When interpreting, it is important to analyze some of the purpose of law so as to help understand if the judges are to be bound to the purpose of the law. The laws’ main purpose includes the establishment of standards. This can be defined as establishing the bar or the line of how things should be carried out or not. The guidepost of the minimal acceptable behaviours in the society. It is important to try and imagine a situation with no guideposts that govern how we operate within the society, clearly the standards are needed and that is where the law comes in. this is one of the most basic purposes of the law. But we need to analyze the purpose in line with the proposed statement. A case in front of a judge for instance the no parking law provided for Fuller’s and Harts definition in our readings. When one comes and parks a tank at the parking area where it was not allowed. Then the judge can interpret this in two ways. One the judge can act on bound to the purpose of the low which is to maintain standards within the society. The law was put in place due to different reasons hence it is correct for the judge to pass a verdict in respect to what the law stipulates once one violates this. but personally, according to Hart interpretation, the law did not specify that an old tank cannot park. The judge needs to not only be fixed on the purpose of the law but consider the other interpretation of the stipulated law. To this point one is starts getting convinced the need of concurring with the judges need to bound by the purpose of the law.

The other main purpose of the law is maintaining order. This is one of the sed purposes of the law. In most cases the law is followed due to the necessity of maintain order. Judges are mostly bound by this purpose although in most cases this ends up becoming contradicting. Different cases challenge this purpose of the law and being bound to the law tends to introduce different variables within the case verdict. For instance, this brings in issues such as injustice, rigidity, absurdity and generality. It is important to identify the state of the judge being bound to purpose can lead to cases that rather than maintaining order leads to the lose of order completely. A judge in an election case for instance is given information that one of the candidates has lost but feels the elections were not fair, the law states that for this ruling to be decided the evidence of the election must be used to help determine the case, unfortunately the winning party happens to provide all the evidence to prove their win but the society has its different take on the elections although the evidence tables is not enough. Probably the winning body has influence over the electoral body. As per the law, with sufficient evidence then the case can be decided. Bound by the purpose of the law which is to maintain order, the ruling is dependent on the evidence but the in the instance where the judge is not bound by the purpose of the law then they are n a position to interpret the law differently so as to attain the actual purpose of the law. This shows the need for the judges to be bound to the purpose of the law rather than the interpretation of the how the law is stated. This is an understanding that may contradict many but in the application of an actual scenario the clear definition of this is identified.

The other purpose of the law is to resolve dispute, the minute the law becomes un clear and the judge’s interpretation of the law fails to resolve any dispute it is evident that the law will probably fail since the dispute settlement will not be achieved. According to Hart where the interpretation of the law is key, dispute resolution needs the judge to be keenly bound to the purpose f the law. Incase a judge is to directly interpret the law and fail to resolve the dispute via their judgment, as a judge one will have failed to meet the purpose of the law. The minute the dispute escalates and a verdict was already passed then a clear failure of the justice system is mapped. This gives a complete need for the judges be bound to the purpose of the law. This helps in attaining the main goal of the law which is serving the society. It is the duty of the judges to ensure that this law is not either misused or interpreted. Also, the act of the judge being bound to the purpose of the law enables them to abide by the law and hep them to serve the society accordingly. This ensure the flow of equality served by the justice system of the country.

Looking at the statement it is evident that the meaning of the statement whether judges should be bound by the purpose of a law when they interpret it is positive and means a lot. The help o both Fuller and Hart help in the understanding of what law interpretation means then further understanding the la helps one now understands the purpose of law. It is possible to finally conclude that the judges are to be bound to the purpose of law (Hart, 2017). The law is supposed to be fair for instance but the interpretation of the law for a particular case may be reflecting the matter in an opposite direction hence it requires the judge to be bund by the purpose of the law rather than the interpretation of the law. This help one then serves the society appropriately since they are serving the la in respect to the purpose it was meant to be. Understanding the concept and differentiating between the purpose of the law and its interpretation may lead to the different understanding of the statement hence leading to conflicting responses in relation to the case.  

References

Campbell, T.D., The legal theory of ethical positivism. 2016 (pp. 11-39). Routledge.

Cover, R.M. The folktales of justice: tales of jurisdiction. In The Globalization of International Law 2017 (pp. 1-28). Routledge.

Fuller, L.L. Positivism and fidelity to law: A reply to Professor Hart. Harvard law review, 1958 pp.630-672.

Fuller, L.L. The morality of law (Vol. 152). 1969. Yale University Press.

Hart, H.L.A., Positivism and the Separation of Law and Morals. In Law and Morality 2017. (pp. 63-99). Routledge.

Kingsbury, B., The concept of ‘law’in global administrative law. European Journal of International Law, 2009. 20(1), pp.23-57.

Krygier, M., The concept of law and social theory. In Legal Theory and the Social Sciences 2017. (pp. 3-28). Routledge.

Radin, M.J., Reconsidering the rule of law. In The Rule of Law and the Separation of Powers 2017. (pp. 37-76). Routledge.

Raz, J., The rule of law and its virtue. In The Rule of Law and the Separation of Powers 2017. (pp. 77-94). Routledge.

Waldron, J., Is the rule of law an essentially contested concept (in Florida)?. In The Rule of Law and the Separation of Powers 2017. (pp. 117-144). Routledge.

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