Legal Time

Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence 31 (2):281-322 (2018)
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This article claims that legal time has excluded and submerged an important sense of time inside structured time. Structured time has two forms. Each form of structured time identifies a beginning to a legal order (droit, Recht) as a whole. The one form has focussed upon a critical date. The critical date is exemplified by a basic text, such as the Constitution, or the judicially identified date of settlement, sovereignty or territorial control of a territory by the state. The second form of structured time has begun with the judicial recognition of a value such as the rule of law, the protection of minorities, equal treatment, or due process of law. With the two forms of structured time, jurists have proceeded to identify a binding law. Such a law has been considered a rule, principle, doctrine or other intelligible standard. Once structured legal time has thus begun, events of legal relevance have been represented by jurists in a distinct phase or period of time. Each such a distinct period is parsed through reference to its named, or labelled, starting point and the latter, in turn and ultimately, with reference to the beginning of the very constitutional order as a whole. Legal justification and the conceptual structures of justification are presumed to follow suit. The article argues, however, that another sense of time, excluded and submerged inside structured time, is experienced. An experienced event, manifested as a discrete incident in experiential time, opens to a condition of the possibility of the existence of law.

Author's Profile

William Conklin
University of Windsor


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