The Dark Sides of the Law in Common Law Countries, International and Interdisciplinary Conference, Paris (France), June 15-17, 2017

deadline for submissions: 
December 15, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
Panthéon-Assas University (Paris, France)

Call for papers

The Dark Sides of the Law in Common Law Countries

International and Interdisciplinary Conference, Paris (France), June 15-17, 2017

The Panthéon-Assas University “Law and Humanities” research centre (a part of CERSA) is pleased to announce its first international conference to be held in Paris (France) on June 15-17, 2017. As an interdisciplinary group working on the connections between law and politics, economics, and literature, we are seeking papers exploring the dark sides of the law from a wide range of perspectives in the United Kingdom, the United States and Commonwealth countries.

Confirmed keynote speakers:

Mrs. Judith Resnik, Professor of Law at Yale Law School.

Mr. Paul Raffield, Professor at the School of Law, Warwick University.

Darkness and obscurity, in the literal and figurative senses, are very much present in the law and legal language.

One of the main roles of the courts is to clarify obscure legal issues in order to improve access to law and justice. For example, in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby 573 U. S. (2014) or Director of Public Prosecutions v Dziurzynski [2002] EWHC 1380 (Admin), the judges asked the parties to “enlighten” them.

Legal language has been criticised for the intricacies of its jargon, starting with the 1362 Pleading Act rejecting the use of “Law French” in common law courts, to the extensive use of legalese that has been recently limited by the Plain Language Movement. Legalese has been removed to some extent, but some dark areas remain, due to an almost irreducible procedural formalism.

The increased liberalisation of the legal market is giving rise to issues of translation, not only from one language to another but also from one common law jurisdiction to another.

In the political world, darkness may characterise the relationship between the various branches of government or between the government and the private/public sectors and/or the People. For example, in the UK, the voluntary sector has long been intertwined with the government, thus endangering its independence.

Darkness is present in the literary and visual representations of the law and the legal world. Ever since the English Renaissance, drama and other literary genres have challenged the dark aspects of law and justice, mocking the legal professions or exposing unfair court procedures or decisions. For the past sixty years, cinema and TV series have explored the darkest aspects of the law. The dynamic relationship between darkness and light, opacity and transparency, may also be embodied in the architecture of courts.

Since the 19th century, judges have resorted to psychological analysis. Nowadays expert psychiatrists are summoned to court in order to explain the dark workings of the mind, in particular in criminal law.

For this interdisciplinary conference, we welcome proposals or contributions from scholars and academics as well as PhD students addressing any issues on darkness in relation to the law in common law countries. Papers may examine the interdisciplinary relationship between Law and any of the fields mentioned above, but also others such as economics, sociology etc.

The language of the conference will be mainly English, but papers may be given in French.

Potential speakers are invited to submit a title and an abstract of 300 words along with a brief bio-bibliography to the organising committee at

Deadline of submissions is December 15, 2016.

Selected speakers will be notified by February 4, 2017.

Organising committee:

Geraldine Gadbin-George

Yvonne-Marie Rogez

Armelle Sabatier

Claire Wrobel

Panthéon-Assas university (Paris - France)