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Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review x Jaar 2015 x
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Access_open Expounding the Place of Legal Doctrinal Methods in Legal-Interdisciplinary Research

Experiences with Studying the Practice of Independent Accountability Mechanisms at Multilateral Development Banks

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 3 2015
Auteurs Andria Naudé Fourie
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    There is a distinct place for legal doctrinal methods in legal-interdisciplinary research methodologies, but there is value to be had in expounding that place – in developing a deeper understanding, for instance, of what legal doctrinal analysis has to offer, wherein lies its limitations, and how it could work in concert with methods and theories from disciplinary areas other than law. This article offers such perspectives, based on experiences with an ‘advanced’ legal-interdisciplinary methodology, which facilitates a long-term study of the growing body of practice generated by citizen-driven, independent accountability mechanisms (IAMs) that are institutionally affiliated with multilateral development banks. The article demonstrates how legal doctrinal methods have contributed towards the design and development of a multipurpose IAM-practice database. This database constitutes the analytical platform of the research project and also facilitates the integration of various types of research questions, methods and theories.


Andria Naudé Fourie
Research Associate, Erasmus University Rotterdam, School of Law.

    In this article, I want to show that some doctrinal problems of legal interpretation and argumentation can be analysed in a more precise way than a standard doctrinal analysis, when we use insights from speech act theory and argumentation theory. Taking a discussion about the accusation of the criminal act insulting as a starting point, I will try to show that the doctrinal perspective on meaning of statutory norms and of the qualification of utterances as legal acts lacks the instruments to explain why discussions about these meanings and utterances are so complicated. In short, a doctrinal analysis focuses on word or sentence meaning, distinguishing between the literal or semantic meaning on the one hand and the meaning in context on the other. However, the analysis of this ‘meaning in context’ is often rather vague, especially in cases of indirect and strategic communication. It is the analysis of this meaning in context that can profit from insights from speech act theory. I do not want to ‘solve’ the problems of the interpretation of the norms concerning insulting. I only use this case in point as an exemplary example to discuss important (often implicit doctrinal) starting points about the related concepts meaning and intention (or commitment) in interpretative discussions.


Harm Kloosterhuis
Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam.

    The doctrinal methodology is in a period of change and transition. Realising that the scope of the doctrinal method is too constricting, academic lawyers are becoming eclectic in their use of research method. In this transitional time, legal scholars are increasingly infusing evidence (and methods) from other disciplines into their reasoning to bolster their reform recommendations.
    This article considers three examples of the interplay of the discipline of law with other disciplines in the pursuit of law reform. Firstly the article reviews studies on the extent of methodologies and reformist frameworks in PhD research in Australia. Secondly it analyses a ‘snapshot’ of recently published Australian journal articles on criminal law reform. Thirdly, it focuses on the law reform commissions, those independent government committees that play such an important role in law reform in common law jurisdictions.
    This examination demonstrates that while the doctrinal core of legal scholarship remains intact, legal scholars are endeavouring to accommodate statistics, comparative perspectives, social science evidence and methods, and theoretical analysis, within the legal research framework, in order to provide additional ballast to the recommendations for reform.


Terry Hutchinson
Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, QUT Law School (t.hutchinson@qut.edu.au); Marika Chang (QUT Law School) was the research assistant on this project.

Sanne Taekema

Wibren van der Burg
Sanne Taekema and Wibren van der Burg are Professor of Jurisprudence and Professor of Legal Philosophy and Jurisprudence, respectively, at the Erasmus School of Law in Rotterdam.
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