The Author of the Passage Suggests that in English Law a Substantive Interpretation of a Legal Rule Might Be Warranted Under Which One of the Following Circumstances - English Language


The question in this section is based on the passage. The question is to be answered on the basis of what is stated or implied in the passage.

Although the legal systems of England and the United States are superficially similar, they differ profoundly in their approaches to and uses of legal reasons: substantive reasons are more common than formal reasons in the United States, whereas in England the reverse is true. This distinction reflects a difference in the visions of law that prevails in the two countries. In England, the law has traditionally been viewed as a system of rules; the United States favours a vision of law as an outward expression of community’s sense of right and justice. 

Substantive reasons, as applied to law, are based on moral, economic, political and other considerations. These reasons are found both “in the law” and “outside the law” so to speak. Substantive reasons inform the content of a large part of the law: constitutions, statutes, contracts, verdicts, and the like. Consider, for example, a statute providing or purposes were explicitly written into the statute was to ensure quiet and safety in the park. Now suppose that a veterans’ group mounts a World War II jeep (in running order but without a battery) as a war memorial on a concrete slab in the park, and charges are brought against its members. Most judges in the United States would find the defendants not guilty because what they did had no adverse effect on park’s quiet and safety.

Formal reasons are different in that they frequently prevent substantive reasons from coming into play, even when substantive reasons are explicitly incorporated into the law at hand. For example, when a document fails to comply with stipulated requirements, the court may render the document legally ineffective. A Will requiring written witness may be declared null and void and, therefore, unenforceable for the formal reason that the requirement was not observed. Once the legal rule–that a Will is invalid for lack of proper witnessing –has been clearly established, and the legality of the rule is not in question, application of that rule precludes from consideration substantive arguments in favour of Will’s validity or enforcement. 

Legal scholars in England and the United States have long bemused themselves with extreme examples of formal and substantive reasoning. On the one hand, formal reasoning in England has led to wooden interpretations of statutes and an unwillingness to develop the common law through judicial activism. On the other hand, freewheeling substantive reasoning in the United States has resulted in statutory interpretations so liberal that the texts of some statutes have been ignored.

The author of the passage suggests that in English law a substantive interpretation of a legal rule might be warranted under which one of the following circumstances. 


  • Social conditions have changed to the extent that to continue to enforce the rule would be to decide contrary to present-day social norms

  • The composition of the legislature has changed to the extent that to enforce the rule would be contrary to the views of the majority in the present legislative assembly

  • The legality of the rule is in question and its enforcement is open to judicial interpretation

  • Individuals who have violated the legal rule argue that application of the rule would lead to unfair judicial interpretations



The legality of the rule is in question and its enforcement is open to judicial interpretation

Concept: Comprehension Passages (Entrance Exams)
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