Humanizing the Law - Legal design for a more functional and responsible legal system

Doherty, Michael (2021) Humanizing the Law - Legal design for a more functional and responsible legal system. In: National Finnish XIX Legal Research Conference 2021: Sustainable and Responsible Law for Society, 2021-08-252021-08-27, University of Lapland. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Law provides people with the potential to vindicate their rights and act on their responsibilities, as citizens, consumers, and contract makers. Laws can potentially be used to hold public and private entities to account in fields such as sustainability or international development. Too often this potential is undermined by the particular communication modes adopted in law, which have a high degree of formalism, obscurantism and aversion to visual communication tools, i.e. ‘legalese’. Our thesis is that legalese unnecessarily inhibits the public understanding of law and the ability of law to realise its own potential to perform socially useful functions. At the heart of these functions, according to law’s own rhetoric, is the claimed ability to guide human behaviour. This is found in both philosophical accounts of law (e.g. Raz) and in the jurisprudence of courts (e.g. the European Court of Human Rights). Facets of legalese may seem to be natural manifestations of the underlying nature of the practice, but we reject this view by reference to the possibilities emerging from the Legal Design movement. Legal Design is not mere stylistic embellishment or refinement. There is a relationship between form and function and changing the modes of legal communication changes the capacity of the legal rule to be understood and acted upon.

Item Type:
Contribution to Conference (Paper)
Journal or Publication Title:
National Finnish XIX Legal Research Conference 2021: Sustainable and Responsible Law for Society
ID Code:
163229
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
17 Jun 2022 14:55
Refereed?:
No
Published?:
Unpublished
Last Modified:
22 Nov 2022 14:51