The Legislative Text as a Legal Story: a Storytelling Approach to Contemporary Legislative Drafting

Keywords: storytelling, legislative drafting, narrative, style, signposting, legal definitions, defined terms


A recent approach to legislative drafting, seen in common law jurisdictions which particularly praise plain and accessible legal communication, includes the presentation of legislative provisions to readers in a storytelling format. The legislative story develops progressively, by introducing legal characters, and describing relations, activities, and events. The paper draws on a number of drafting techniques, namely narrative-style drafting, the location of legal definitions in the structure of a legislative act, new types of legal definitions, the formal identification of terms and their signposting, as well as directness and personal tone. Based on various Commonwealth drafting directions, a legislative text is perceived and analyzed as a legal story written by lawyers and legislative drafters. This is in line with the discursive approaches of text linguists, such as De Beaugrande and Dressler, or van Dijk and Kintsch, who looked at the text as a process. Thus, text linguistics might be an adequate methodological framework to describe a legislative narrative. To successfully tell a legislative story, the identified elements of the storytelling approach are needed, such as a coherent conceptual framework, clear formal identification of terms, their adequate location in the structure of a legislative act, and more. The storytelling approach in common law legislation may be worth considering in continental (civil law) jurisdictions to improve the readability, accessibility, and clarity of laws.

How to Cite
Jopek-Bosiacka A. (2024). The Legislative Text as a Legal Story: a Storytelling Approach to Contemporary Legislative Drafting. Pázmány Law Review, 10(1), 57-69.
Thematic Focus: Language and Law in the Human-Machine Era