Judging the Singular: Towards a Contingent Practice of Improvisation in Law

  • Kathryn McNeilly
  • Paul Stapleton
Keywords: Judging, Law, Common Law, Contingency, Butler, Music, Singularity, Anticipation, Adaptability, Constraint


At present improvisation appears to be a tacit practice within law; regularly used but largely unacknowledged amongst legal practitioners. This article advances the benefits of improvisation and calls for a more conscious and critical practice of improvisation in law. However, in this process of moving from the tacit to the critical it is imperative to avoid an abstract practice of improvisation, as has often been advanced in recent musical improvisation literature. The way in which we propose this can be avoided is by foregrounding contingency. This discussion urging towards a contingent practice of improvisation in law will focus on the role of the judge and judicial improvisation.