Opacity in International Legal Texts: Generic Trait or Symbol of Power?


  • María Ángeles Orts




Legal language, Power, CMR, Institute Cargo Clauses, LCIA


Due to this international character of English, texts in this language –as proffered by several major institutions in the area of public and private law− are deployed as necessary tools of communication in the course of the establishment of transnational commercial and juridical relationships. However, English as the language of the law has been branded as a complex, opaque, kind of discourse. The aim of the present paper is to address the question of the undeniable complexity of legal texts in English as instruments to wield power, their unveiled communicative aim being to separate the ruler from the citizen and the legal message from its user. To demonstrate the validity of such thesis, genre analysis has been applied to three paradigmatic texts, consequential to develop international deals in the transnational contexts: the insurance policies of the London Institute of Underwriters at Lloyd’s, the Rules issued by the London Court of international Arbitration and the Geneva Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road (CMR). The goal of our study will be carried out through different levels to discern whether there exists any possible equation between power and textual complexity: the formal and discursive level, which will scrutinize lexicon, syntax and textual elements (macrostructure of texts and metadiscourse markers) and the pragmatic level, which will study the texts as peculiar generic types of legal agreements where power and commitment between the parties as a set of directives, i.e. obligations exerted by a powerful party over another, the recipient of the text.


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How to Cite

Orts, María Ángeles. 2015. “Opacity in International Legal Texts: Generic Trait or Symbol of Power?”. Alicante Journal of English Studies / Revista Alicantina De Estudios Ingleses, no. 28 (November):119-45. https://doi.org/10.14198/raei.2015.28.07.