File Copyright Online - File mutual Divorce in Delhi - Online Legal Advice - Lawyers in India

Doctrinal Legal Research

Doctrinal research focuses in answering 'what is law?' in which we try to find out definite answers to legal questions through a thorough investigation from the law books, statutes, legislation etc. the purpose of this research is to check the validity of the existing law in the light of the changing society.

The word 'doctrine' is derived from the latin word 'doctrina' which means to instruct, a lesson, a percept. Doctrinal legal research is all about thorough enquiry in legal concepts, values, principles, and legal text such as statutes, case laws etc. doctrinal legal research is mostly a "research in law' rather than a "research about law" as it mainly focuses on developing theories and perspectives.

As it is based on the study of legal texts, case laws, authoritative materials researchers often used the terms like 'traditional legal research', 'library based legal research' and even 'black letter law research'.

Jurisprudential Foundation
Doctrinal legal research has its jurisprudential root on the positive or analytical school of law. In the words of prominent jurist of positive school, H.L.A. Hart, doctrinal research 'takes an internal, participant oriented epistemological approach to its object of study. It is epistemologically oriented and does not take into consideration the human aspects of law and how it affects people in society.

Thus, doctrinal legal research is knowledge-based research in law rather than research about law. The emergence of this approach can be traced parallel to the rise of commom law in the 19th and 20th century. Common law, doctrine of precedents all are developed by the efforts of jurists and are linked to doctrinal research.

Judges, Lawyers, academicians, all are engaged in this kind of research. The law of Torts and the Administrative Law are the two most significant examples of traditional research. Judges have researched and developed these two areas of law rather than the theoretical researchers.

Bringing legislation into compliance with the law is one of the fundamental goals of doctrinal study. For instance, if the government decides to introduce comprehensive laws to address all crimes against women, it may commission doctrinal research from some legal professionals and subject-matter specialists.

They might have to read all the laws that are now in effect in this area, as well as earlier case law, earlier precedents, global trends, legal commentary, academic publications, dictionaries, encyclopaedias, periodicals, treatises, textbooks, and other sources of legal knowledge. Going through this sea of information, they would be able to answer all the questions related to this legislation and will be successful in bringing out comprehensive legislation.

It can be utilized for several other purposes as well like to help lawmakers develop meaningful and effective laws, develop fresh legal doctrines, aid courts in reaching effective and legally accurate judgments, help lawyers to interpret statutes and prepare their suits, help students in academia to set a base and many others.

Setting a proposition as the initial beginning point is the first step in the technique for doctrinal study. A specific legal provision or an existing statute could be used for this. The next step might be to examine the motivation for passing that particular law. For a particular clause in the constitution, for instance, the debates in the Constituent Assembly could be very instructive. The law then can be studied in greater detail.

A course of action must be selected. Alternative courses can be explored. Different models need to be studied and finally, the consequences and approximated effects have to be weighed in order to accurately make predictions about the proposition set at the beginning. In all these stages, secondary sources talked about in the above paragraphs are utilized.

But one must be very careful in the selection of these sources. Searching for reliable and accurate sources demands time and effort. Useful information must be separated from the chaff as the presence of unreliable information could lead to misleading and inaccurately skewed results. The efficiency of this method also depends on the question that is asked in the beginning. Asking the right question is the first step towards concrete research. Setting the right proposition and then relying on the right sources is the key to successful doctrinal research.

Doctrinal legal method emphasises coherence and unity and the system is built on empirical and rational foundations. It is loosely empirical in that lawyers work with the raw data of cases and other legal provisions and it is rationalist because it presupposes that the system is logical and internally coherent. It is mainly based on the deductive syllogism which is divided into three main parts, i.e,
  1. Factual pattern (minor premise) (F) - The contract in the present case has a vague term. (FACT)
  2. The identification of the relevant legal norm (major premise) (R) - All contracts with vague terms are void (RULE)
  3. Application of the norm to produce a particular legitimate conclusion (C) - Therefore, the contract in the present case is void. (CONCLUSION)

Contemporary Development Of Doctrinal Research
In doctrinal research there is a transformation which is always going on, the accepted norms or principles are repeatedly tested on the basis of justice, equality and good concise. For instance, the Indian Penal Code of 1860 declares that anyone who attempts suicide is guilty of a crime and subject to punishment.

However, in Nagbhushan Patnaik's case, the Supreme Court determined that this clause breaches Art. 21 of the Indian Constitution, which grants citizens the right to personal liberty. According to the interpretation offered here, the right to personal liberty guaranteed by this article includes the freedom to die, hence attempting suicide is not punishable under the IPC.

Aside from this, the judiciary also tried to interpret the ambiguity lying in the phrases like "just and equitable", "public order", "reasonable opportunity of being heard", and so on. Doctrinal legal research also analyses the prevailing doctrine in a contemporary context. We can refer to the recent development of "marital rape" issue. The amicus curiae pointed to a number of theories throughout the case that served as the foundation for the exception for marital rape.

This clause was primarily founded on the idea of implied consent, which derives from the "Doctrine of Hale," established by Mathew Hale, which holds that a husband cannot be charged with rape since, by their mutual consent and contract during marriage, the wife has given herself up to the husband in this manner.

While the case is still pending, the judiciary will conduct a comprehensive investigation to amend the law. Another example of the application of the doctrinal research is the abolition of Sec. 497 which is based on the Doctrine of Coverture, which states that a woman has no individual legal identity after marriage and she is under the authority of her husband. It was held that, application of this doctrine is violative of fundamental rights of the woman and the same was abolished.

  1. Assembling relevant facts
  2. Identifying the legal issues
  3. Analysing the issues with a view to searching for the law.
  4. Reading background material
  5. Locating primary material including legislation, delegated legislation and case law.
  6. Synthesising all the issues in context
  7. Coming to a tentative conclusion

Unavailability of reliable data is the biggest limitation for this kind of research and unless the researcher is much acquainted with limitations of doctrinal method, research outcomes could possibly be "too theoretical, too technical, uncritical, conservative, trivial and without the consideration of social, economical and political significance of the legal process.

So, in the concluding remarks, I would like to say that, Convergence rather than rivalry between the doctrinal and non-doctrinal sociological research could only be the best approach to tackle with the burning problems in the legal field.

Law Article in India

Ask A Lawyers

You May Like

Legal Question & Answers

Lawyers in India - Search By City

Copyright Filing
Online Copyright Registration


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi Mutual Consent Divorce is the Simplest Way to Obtain a D...

Increased Age For Girls Marriage


It is hoped that the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which intends to inc...

Facade of Social Media


One may very easily get absorbed in the lives of others as one scrolls through a Facebook news ...

Section 482 CrPc - Quashing Of FIR: Guid...


The Inherent power under Section 482 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (37th Chapter of t...

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India: A...


The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a concept that proposes the unification of personal laws across...

Role Of Artificial Intelligence In Legal...


Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing various sectors of the economy, and the legal i...

Lawyers Registration
Lawyers Membership - Get Clients Online

File caveat In Supreme Court Instantly