Pringle and the Nature of Legal Reasoning
(2014) 21 Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law 205
16 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2014
Date Written: June 4, 2014
The Pringle judgment generated significant academic comment, concerning all aspects of the case. It raises, as will be seen, broader issues as to the nature of legal reasoning and the role played therein by text and background purpose or teleology.
Gunnar Beck is very critical of the CJEU, castigating it for reasoning that is said to be absurd, and accusing it of crossing the line between legal reasoning and political judgment. He is also critical of much academic analysis of the case, contending that this was too uncritical of the Court's judgment, and contending also that the interpretation of the judgment as a blend of text and teleology could not be justified in terms of legitimate legal reasoning.
This article considers more broadly the nature of legal reasoning in the light of Beck's critique. It will be seen that Beck's depiction of opposing academic views is inaccurate; that his own view as to the legitimate role for text and background purpose in legal reasoning is unclear; that insofar as it can be discerned it is neither coherent nor tenable; that while engaging in what purports to be purely textual analysis he imports implicit assumptions about purpose and teleology; and that these implicit assumptions as to purpose are paradoxically the very same as those he criticizes the Court for taking cognizance of.
The article begins with some introductory remarks concerning the Maastricht settlement for economic and monetary union. This is followed by discussion of the conceptual relationship between text and teleology in legal reasoning, with particular but not exclusive reference to EU law. The nature of this inter-relationship is analysed in relation to the three levels at which the issue can arise: the interpretation of particular legislative or regulatory provisions; the elaboration of the purposes served by a section or body of law; and in discussion as to the overall purpose of the relevant constituent document. The focus then turn to the Pringle judgment, and the way in which a properly informed understanding of the nature of the relationship between text and purpose can shed light on the Court’s legal reasoning.
Keywords: text, teleology, legal reasoning, legitimacy, economic and monetary union, purpose
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