Authors
Sol Azuelos-Atias
University of Haifa
Abstract
After a brief survey of the Israeli legal system, I will elucidate how the method of judicial interpretation used in Israeli courts is applied by means of an example of the judicial interpretation of section 37 of the Land Appreciation Tax Law presented by Judge Grunis in the Shadmi case. This case reveals a controversy among the judges of the Israeli Supreme Court over the notion of “linguistic possibility”. As this notion is one of the judicial criteria for appropriateness of purposive interpretation, the controversy is crucially important to statutory interpretation. One of the judicial criteria for appropriateness of interpretations is that the interpretation should be linguistically possible; the controversial question is what “linguistic possibility” means. Two views as to what makes an interpretation of a given expression linguistically possible are suggested in the Shadmi case: The “empirical” view saying that an interpretation of a given expression is linguistically possible if the expression is occasionally used and understood as having the meaning suggested by the interpretation in question.The “theoretical” view saying that an interpretation of a given expression is linguistically possible if there is a method of interpretation that suggests, when applied to the expression in question, the same meaning that is suggested by the interpretation in question.The Supreme Court preferred the theoretical view of “linguistic possibility”; this means that when a translator endeavors to translate any section of Israeli law she must know how the section in question is interpreted by the courts when they apply it
Keywords Legal interpretation  Linguistic constraints  Purposive interpretation  Israeli law  Land appreciation tax
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DOI 10.1007/s11196-014-9380-y
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