Quote of the month: The chaos in law

In the course of writing my doctoral thesis, I come across various quotes from various decades that I find interesting and of great value to the research community. Due to the vast amount of research articles, some of them might have been forgotten or at least not remembered. In an attempt to revisit some of these quotes, I am intending to revive this blog and post some thoughts on a more regular basis from now on.

As I am writing on the chapter on information management at the moment, I found this quote from 1920

In substance our law is excellent, full of justice and good sense, but in form it is chaotic. It has no systematic arrangement which is generally recognized and used, a fact which greatly increases the labors of lawyers and causes unnecessary litigation.

Henry T. Terry, Arrangement of the Law, Illinois Law Review 15, 1920, p 60. (link)

Interestingly enough, though meant for the case law system, I claim the statement equally applies to civil law countries. In my opinion, however, law is chaotic in substance, not in form.

From a formal, procedural point of view, law is very structured. It is clear who enacts laws, who issues regulations and who decides court cases. But from a semantic, content related, point of view, law is chaotic and has no inherent topical structure.

Statutes and cases cite each other, refer to other legal sources, which creates relations between legal material, but not a clear structure of its meaning.


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