Interpreting legal language: can “he” truly be gender neutral? – Halsbury’s Law Exchange

Posted January 15th, 2014 in gender, interpretation, news by tracey

‘Until the discovery of telepathy (or perhaps some sort of machine equivalent), we must rely on language as our way of conveying unambiguous meaning to each other. That need is particularly pressing when it comes to the law. So, it was refreshing to see a discussion on language in the House of Lords recently, when Lord Scott invited a debate on personal pronouns and their semantic infelicities in Acts and statutory instruments. Or, in plain English, when is a “he” also a “she” as a matter of law? This may not sound particularly confusing, but, because judges have always had to interpret the law as written (unless there is a compelling reason not to), it is important to remove as much ambiguity from the finished Act as possible.’

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Halsbury’s Law Exchange, 14th January 2014