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Unpublished Paper
Judicial Activism: an (Un)expected Result of Legal Interpretation in Complex Societies?
ExpressO (2013)
  • Fabio P L Almeida, Mr
  • Alexandre A Costa, Dr

Judicial activism has been accused of being an undue activity of judges, who should restrict themselves to the interpretation of the law. In this article, we argue that this conception is wrong: judicial activism does not imply a distortion in political and judicial structures, but it should be understood as an expected feature of legal interpretation in complex political systems. In contemporary liberal democracies, legislation cannot regulate all situations, and thus the only way to affirm its universality is through flexible interpretation, which grants to society the ability to adapt its legal system to new circumstances without the need to change it through legislative innovations. Finally, as the texture of the regulatory system becomes more open, the practical application of the law demands from the jurists a greater capacity of dealing with legal texts composed of broad principles and not of precise rules.

  • Judicial activism,
  • Legal interpretation,
  • Institutional evolution,
  • Legal change
Publication Date
December 22, 2013
Citation Information
Fabio P L Almeida and Alexandre A Costa. "Judicial Activism: an (Un)expected Result of Legal Interpretation in Complex Societies?" ExpressO (2013)
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