Publication details

Writing Commas in Legislative Texts, Textual Interpretation and Socialist Legal Tradition

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Year of publication 2018
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Law

Description Textual interpretation is according to both the Czech legal doctrine and the case law of the Czech Constitutional Court the first and necessary but not the sole sufficient step in interpretation of legal texts. Nevertheless, the importance of textual interpretation cannot be underestimated. In this paper, we will discuss an issue of writing commas in legislative texts as one of many examples of the importance and complexity of the problem of Textual interpretation. We will analyse how writing commas in legislative texts can influence their later interpretation by courts and how is this possibility understood and foreseen by the legislators. For example, using or not using a comma may mean that there is a change in the ratio between the enumerated items of the list of conditions required for e.g. the creation of a particular permission, and suddenly all the conditions need not be met and meeting only one is sufficient. Therefore, it is necessary for the interpretation of commas in legal texts to be consistent. From situations that are problematic in terms of punctuation, we chose to use a comma before "or". We will present it on the example of the new Civil Code in which the comma before “or” is used 368 times. In this particular case, we will demonstrate which ambiguities can arise here and how they can be solved according to the general spelling rules and in the legal context. We will also examine whether, how and under which circumstances the language standard (general and legal) can be violated. We will also discuss how the Socialist Legal Tradition influences this understanding of textual interpretation in the Czech legal system. The aim of our paper is to stress the inconsistencies in the textual interpretation of legislative texts and propose possible solutions of this situation.
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