Category Archives: Interpretation

Slocum and Gries, ‘Judging Corpus Linguistics’

ABSTRACT The practice of legal interpretation has long sought legitimization through devices that seek to distance interpretations from the personal predilections of judges. Most notably, with the rise of textualism, courts have habitually relied on dictionary definitions to provide word meanings that are external to a judge’s own intuitions. Similarly, some scholars and judges have […]

Just Published: Ryan Catterwell, A Unified Approach to Contract Interpretation

Interpretation or construction is central to the operation of contract law. Despite the fundamental role it plays, there have been limited attempts to explain construction in holistic terms. This important book aims to fill that gap by offering a systematic exposition of the iterative process. It also goes further, suggesting practical solutions to disputes regarding […]

Neal Goldfarb, ‘The Use of Corpus Linguistics in Legal Interpretation’

ABSTRACT Over the past decade, the idea of using corpus linguistics in legal interpretation has attracted interest on the part of judges, lawyers, and legal academics in the United States. This paper provides an introduction to this nascent movement, which is generally referred to as ‘Law and Corpus Linguistics’ or ‘LCL’. After briefly summarizing LCL’s […]

Jeremy McClane, ‘Boilerplate Semantics: Judging Natural Language in Standard Deal Contracts’

ABSTRACT Many corporate finance lawsuits involve the interpretation of commonly-used boilerplate contracts, the meaning of which is thought to be widely understood. In some cases, however, judges interpret these contracts in ways that upend market actors’ expectations about the meaning of terms and frustrate the presumed intent of the parties. Given this experience, and the […]

Aditi Bagchi, ‘Risk Averse Contract Interpretation’

ABSTRACT Boilerplate reveals the inadequacies of a certain stylized approach to contract interpretation. This essay argues, however, that boilerplate does not require its own, conceptually unique interpretive apparatus. The methods we use to read boilerplate can be derived from principles that inform contract interpretation in general. We can treat it ‘normally’ for two reasons. First, […]

Klapper, Schmidt and Tarantola, ‘Ordinary Meaning from Ordinary People’

ABSTRACT Ordinary meaning has an extraordinary impact. Across virtually every field of law, statutory interpretation battles of enormous consequence hinge on what judges perceive to be the ‘ordinary meaning’ of law’s words and phrases – how an ordinary person would interpret a provision. In making that determination, judges across the ideological spectrum reach far and […]

‘Legal Theory Lexicon: Interpretation and Construction’

“Every law student learns that the relationship of a legal text to the resolution of a particular case can be complex. What does the text mean? How does that meaning translate into legal doctrine? And how does the doctrine apply in the context of the facts of the case? One way to think more clearly […]

‘Indirect and consequential loss exclusions – is it time for change?’

“Parties to construction contracts often include clauses in their contracts seeking to exclude claims for indirect and consequential losses, believing that such clauses are likely to prevent claims for financial losses such as lost profits and business interruption. Contracting parties may consider such financial losses to be beyond the ordinarily recoverable losses flowing from a […]

Ryan Catterwell, ‘Purposive Contract Interpretation and the High Court’

ABSTRACT Purposive justification plays a key role in contract interpretation. As this paper demonstrates, the High Court has adopted a sensible and principled approach to purposive construction. The Court has paid due regard to the contract text, while still enforcing the objects secured by the contract (where appropriate). Through a detailed analysis of 8 recent […]

Francis Mootz, ‘Corpus Linguistics and Vico’s Lament: Against Vivisectional Jurisprudence’

INTRODUCTION … In this essay I argue against the deep impulse that motivates the contemporary turn to corpus linguistics precisely because this enticing ‘new’ method reinscribes the profoundly misguided theoretical premise of modern law that there are ontological and epistemological distinctions between the law and its application to a specific case. In his oration at […]