Disputation: Thomas Frøberg

Thomas Frøberg, at the Departement of Public and International Law, will defend his thesis "Arguing with legal principles"

Thomas Frøberg

Copyright:  Kjetil Frantzen, IOR

Trial lecture - time and place


Adjudication committee

Chair of defence



The word “principle” (“prinsipp”) is frequently used by Norwegian lawyers as part of their legal argumentation. However it is often not clear what this term signifies, and several authors also view the use of principles in legal argumentation as problematic.
The thesis maps the different concepts that “principle” can be used to convey, on the basis of an analysis of how the word is used in decisions from the Norwegian Supreme Court. The thesis shows that the term has multiple, partially overlapping, meanings. The analysis draws not only on Norwegian but also international legal theory, particularly works by Neil MacCormick, Ronald Dworkin, Robert Alexy and Kaarlo Tuori. The thesis also charts the various normative questions that arguing with legal principles can give rise to.

A particular emphasis is placed on cases where the Supreme Court uses the word “principle” to refer to the principles that underlie one or more statutory provisions, and which are used to solve legal questions that are not directly covered by the statute itself. The thesis argues that this is an argumentative pattern sui generis, that should not be reduced to the use of more familiar Norwegian legal concepts like analogy, custom or value-considerations. This particular way of arguing with principles necessitates a discussion of the fundamental normative question of whether the law should be interpreted with the primary aim of safeguarding the coherence of the legal system or ensuring the equitable solution of the particular case.


Published Oct. 17, 2013 3:50 PM - Last modified Nov. 4, 2014 2:48 PM