Pragmatic aspetcs of legislative intent

Canale, Damiano; Poggi, Francesca

In The Nature of Legislative Intent Richard Ekins presents a theory of legislation that reaffirms the centrality of legislative intent in the understanding of law-making and legal interpretation. One of the distinctive aspects of Ekins’s account is that legislation is conceived as a form of conversational communication through which intentional contents are conveyed to law-addressees. In the paper we first consider the way in which Ekins addresses the traditional problems that the concept of legislative intent gives rise to: the ontological problem (do legislatures have intentions?) and the epistemic problem (how can legislative intentions be identified?). Then we examine whether the conversational model is able to provide a convincing answer to these problems. To do this, the paper focuses on Paul Grice’s account of conversational communication and on some implications of it for the analysis of legislation and legal interpretation.