International Journal of Speech Language and the Law, Vol 22, No 1 (2015)

Jury Instructions in Hong Kong: A Gricean Perspective

Le Cheng, Winnie Cheng, Jian Li
Issued Date: 8 Jul 2015


Most previous studies on jury instructions have been confined to legalese such as the lexical and syntactic features of jury instructions. This study, drawing on reported cases on jury instructions from the Hong Kong judiciary, aims to examine jury instructions in Hong Kong to better explore how jury instructions are given in Hong Kong, being a common-law jurisdiction, and to argue that Grice’s Cooperative Principle can be usefully adopted to examine jury instructions in order to shed some light on the drafting of jury instructions. The study argues that the principle of rationality, a deeper-level of observance of Gricean maxims, which underlies the Cooperative Principle, has interpretative force on jury instructions in the case of non-observance of conversational maxims, and that, in the court judgments examined, non-observance of the fundamental communicative principle usually constitutes a good ground for appeal, although the opposite is also true. It therefore provides a pertinent demonstration of the differences of the operation of Gricean maxims in lay and legal contexts.

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DOI: 10.1558/ijsll.v22i1.15400


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