Common Law Confusion and Empirical Labour Law
107 - 122
The Autonomy of Labour Law
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The question I address in this chapter is whether there should be more empirical enquiry to illuminate the twin current phenomena in the UK of, on the one hand, confusion and incoherence in common law doctrine affecting employment, and, on the other, political indifference to this amidst otherwise frenetic legislative activity related to working life. I argue that more research by labour law scholars could usefully be directed to systematic examination of the functioning in practice of the common law system. My contention is that this has an unusual capacity to deliver a range of instrumental benefits, including of a doctrinal nature. Development in this direction would also build on labour law research traditions that have emphasized the interconnectedness of law with other phenomena, in particular through methodological openness and by conceiving of law as best understood in interaction with its social, economic, political and institutional environments.
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