Vagueness and Indeterminacy in Law

Jan Engberg and Dorothee Heller

in Legal Discourse across Cultures and Systems

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print January 2008 | ISBN: 9789622098510
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9789882207141 | DOI:
Vagueness and Indeterminacy in Law

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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

Chapter.  8226 words. 

Subjects: Sociolinguistics

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