Volume 48 (2014) / Issue 5
Luca Rubini, 'The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Lessons on Methodology in Legal Analysis from the Recent WTO Litigation on Renewable Energy Subsidies' (2014) 48 Journal of World Trade, Issue 5, pp. 895–938
Through the use of the recent litigation on renewable energy subsidies in the World Trade Organization ('WTO') as a case study, this article highlights the importance of methodology in legal analysis and, in particular, of integrity, coherence, and legitimacy. Reference is made to those cases where, in the presence of pressing policy considerations, the adjudicator is led to commit serious errors in order to reach what is perceived as a just and desirable outcome. Adjudicators are often called to distinguish a 'good' policy from a 'bad' one but, if the regulatory framework is not sufficiently responsive to such distinctions, the act of accommodation of law and policy may lead to 'ugly' constructions of the law. The twist of this course of conduct is that the effects of legal interpretation tweaking might not be easily confined to the case at hand and may have broader, negative implications for the legal system at large. Rather than resolving into a simple criticism of adjudicating bodies, the article argues that the ultimate responsibility for dispute settlement mistakes caused by policy pressures is that of law-makers and their inability to take the lead and reform the law.
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