Explain What Is Meant by ‘Mechanical Jurisprudence’, and Discuss Hart’s Objections Towards It.
The term mechanical jurisprudence was coined by Roscoe pound in his article in 1908. It is the concept that judges apply law rigidly according to precedent and legislation without thought of consequences. In this it is argued that every eventuality that comes before the law is legislated for in advance, it is just for the judges to apply the relevant law. This concept would insinuate that every case that comes before the courts has been legislated for in advance, leaving virtually no room for judicial discretion. Hart has shed some academic light on the matter. In “The Concept of Law” he explains that there are two handicaps whenever we seek to legislate in advance. Hart writes “It is a feature of the human predicament that we labour under two connected handicaps whenever we seek to regulate, unambiguously and in advance… The first handicap is our relative ignorance of fact: the second is our relative indeterminacy of aim.” Hart argues that it is this relative ignorance of fact is what hinders us from being able to legislate in advance and in doing so hinders the judiciaries ability to apply law mechanically. He goes on to depict a world in which the use of mechanical jurisprudence would be suitable. “If the world in which we live were characterized only by a finite number of features, and those together with all the modes in which they combine where known to us, then provision could be made for every possibility.” Clearly a world such as this is amicable and hart uses this to argue that evidently it is impossible for the law to cover all eventualities when the variants in cases are endless. Therefore the question is, how can mechanical jurisprudence exist when the law is unable to envisage every eventuality? Judges would be left blind as to how to apply rulings which don’t encompass the circumstance.
Hart’s second handicap of our relative indeterminacy of aim is
Bibliography: "Mechanical Jurisprudence" (1908), 8 Columbia Law Review 605 “The Concept of Law” H.L.A Hart, Second edition 1994 [ 1 ]. "Mechanical Jurisprudence" (1908), 8 Columbia Law Review 605 [ 2 ]