Research Handbook on Legal Pluralism and EU Law
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Research Handbook on Legal Pluralism and EU Law

Edited by Gareth Davies and Matej Avbelj

The Research Handbook on Legal Pluralism and EU Law explores the diversity of phenomenon of overlapping legal systems within the European Union, the nature of their interactions, and how they deal with the difficult question of the legal hierarchy between them. The contributors reflect on the history, sociology and legal scholarship on constitutional and legal pluralism, and develop this further in the light of the challenges currently facing the EU.
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Chapter 18: Interpretative pluralism within EU law

Gareth Davies

Abstract

This chapter puts forward the idea of interpretative pluralism. It suggests that when EU law and national constitutional law seem to be in tension this should not be resolved through hierarchy, but rather through interpretation. The apparent obstacle to this is the view that the Court of Justice is the authoritative interpreter of EU law. Yet this view is at odds with the principle of attribution, since it allows the EU to determine its own powers, and also with the principle common to many European legal systems that one judge does not bind another. Rather, each judge faced with European law should interpret it autonomously, taking the views of other judges seriously, but reaching their own conclusion. If this leads to judicial disagreements, that is a normal feature of legal systems. What it encourages is a collective dialogue about what the law means, which is far more constructive than thinking about which law is top.

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