- ASCOLA Competition Law series
Edited by Daniel Zimmer
Chapter 13: On Words and on Shifting their Meaning – Comment on Nihoul
13. On words and on shifting their meaning – comment on Nihoul Josef Bejček* 1 THE WORDS THEMSELVES DO NOT MATTER VERY MUCH Paul Nihoul puts, in his contribution, a somewhat strange and surprising question in general terms – namely whether the words do matter; it calls, at first glance, for a self-evident and not surprising answer: ‘Of course, they do.’ We as lawyers are not presumed to have the privilege of poets allowed to belittle words, though using them as a tool of expression of their thoughts and feelings: ‘What’s in a name? that which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet’ (Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet). Nevertheless even we can sometimes witness efforts of changing word (in a legal text) in order to change the world. But this clumsy direct way is not inevitable. There is a more comfortable trick available, for the words are pretty flexible, elastic and ‘stretchy’. I suppose as competition lawyers we have more often experienced that things change despite the same wording of legal texts under the influence of different accents of decision-making and of the pressure of factual competition policy.1 It is as if the old medieval dispute between nominalism and realism had come back. The nominalistic approach is that the concepts do not exist in the words; they are instead hidden behind the words as the symbols of the concept. * Professor of Commercial Law, Masaryk University Brno, Head of Department of Commercial Law at the Faculty of...
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