The 2011 programme on Law and Language has been convened by Professor Michael Freeman and Dr Fiona Smith of UCL's Faculty of Law.
This interdisciplinary colloquium celebrates the wide and diverse relationship between Law and Language. Language and law are inextricably linked in many ways: rules are expressed, understood, and interpreted in language; legislation too is a special form of expression, as is a judge’s opinion. We might think too about the way we speak about law:
how does the language of rights or the language of power harness, constrain and change our perceptions of law? How language works to shape and enrich our understanding of law is also important: for example, semantics, hermeneutics, linguistics, logic, semiotics, psycholinguistics, syntax, pragmatics, each reveal deeper ideas. Analytic techniques from many other disciplines like Literature, Philosophy, Neuroscience, Economics, Geography, Anthropology and Psychology (to name but a few) each reveal new insights into the way we perceive language and law in general, how we work with language in law and how we might understand the place of language in specific areas of law, including Contract, Tort or International Law for example. The relationship between law and language extends to broader notions of language as communication too, like the crucial role of silence and non- verbal communication. In essence, the relationship between law and language is varied and complex. The ideas expressed here only touch on the many diverse ways law and language interact. The 16th Annual Colloquium of Current Legal Issues covers a broad spectrum of ideas and disciplines on the relationship between law and language.