Legal Reasoning in Environmental Law

Legal Reasoning in Environmental Law

A Study of Structure, Form and Language

Douglas Fisher

Legal Reasoning in Environmental Law provides a comprehensive review and analysis of the range of legal reasoning processes to support the understanding, interpretation and application of international, regional and national rules of environmental law.

Chapter 14: The structure, form and language of statutory rules

Douglas Fisher

Subjects: environment, environmental law, law - academic, environmental law, legal theory, public international law


The environmental legal system within a state is informed by the general principles of international environmental law; by the agreements – multilateral or bilateral – relating to the environment and its resources entered into by the state; by the environmentally relevant aspects of the constitutional arrangements within the state; and by the state’s environ- mental and developmental policies. Within this normative framework, a state enjoys a degree of discretion about the exercise of its rights of sovereignty and the fulfilment of its international obligations. Despite the variety of approaches adopted by the states that comprise the international community, it is the concept of sustainable development in its various forms that is beginning to emerge as the grundnorm that underpins the state’s environmental legal system. Each state, nevertheless, approaches the relationships between economic development, social development and environmental protection in different ways. What forms of legal reasoning have emerged to bring together not only the three elements of sustainable development but also the equally complex range of principles, doctrines, paralegal rules and legal rules that together comprise the environmental legal system? A contemporary environmental legal system typically follows a structure such as this: values objects or objectives strategies principles rights obligations. Together these form a matrix of legal and paralegal rules. Because of the diversity of interests, of perspectives and of content involved in environ- mental governance, it is unrealistic to expect that an environmental legal system comprises one set of comprehensive and coherent legal and paralegal rules.

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