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The Rule of Law in Action in Democratic Athens$
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Edward M. Harris

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199899166

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199899166.001.0001

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Open Texture in Athenian Law

Open Texture in Athenian Law

The Approach of the Litigants

(p.175) 5 Open Texture in Athenian Law
The Rule of Law in Action in Democratic Athens

Edward M. Harris

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines how litigants approached the issues posed by the open texture of the law. How closely did they adhere to the precise language of the statute? To what extent did they attempt to take advantage of the law's open texture? It shows that when addressing the court, litigants based their arguments on a close reading of the law. But the task of applying the general rules contained in the laws was not always simple and straightforward. Even though the Athenians attempted to formulate their statutes in clear and unambiguous terms, they could not provide detailed definitions of all words in a statute and often used general terms, which might give rise to dispute in particular cases.

Keywords:   litigation, rule of law, statutes, language

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