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Language of Law conference




City University London, The English Project and Taylor Wessing invite you to a conference on The Language of Law.

The words 'archaic', 'obscure' and 'over-elaborate' could perhaps have been created to describe the language of the legal profession. In a profession where the terms 'personam', 'hereditament' and 'ultra vires' have become commonplace, is it time for a change?

As part of The English Project's inaugual English Language Day celebrations, a half-day conference is being held to celebrate and review the language used in the legal profession.

The Language of the Law conference looks at why the profession uses the languages it does, examines the developments made by the profession to modernise and asks if it is time to create a new language fit for a profession which touches all areas of life?

The conference programme:

1:30pm Registration Tea and Coffee

2:00pm Welcome and opening remarks.

Chairman, Professor Bill Lucas, English Project Trustee

2:15pm The origins of the legal language.
Where did the language come from? How has it evolved and how has it been adapted and used by the legal profession?

Professor Christopher Mulvey, University of Winchester

2:35pm Neuroscience and law.

Words such as 'guilty' have been lynchpins of the language of law, yet the emergence of neuroscience is shaking these foundations and will eliminate words that have been the pillars of the legal system. Rita Carter predicts that a whole new language will need to be created in order for cases to proceed.

Rita Carter, Science Writer

2:55pm Discussion

3:10pm Refreshments

3:30pm Workshop: The good, the bad, the ugly.
David Emmet, The City Law School, City University London teaches lawyers and tax advisers how to write plain English. In this workshop, he will share some of the most entertaining and challenging examples of the language of law in practice and will ask delegates to decipher and make sense of legalease!

4:00pm Case study: Making plain language part of the business.
Daphne Perry, Denton Wilde Sapte

- Why we want our lawyers to write in plain language

- What stops lawyers writing in plain language

- Tools for our writers - training and software

- Incentives to write in plain language - standards and recognition

-Progress report - what we have achieved so far

Daphne Perry was for 12 years a barrister specialising in commercial work.  Since 1997 she has worked for Denton Wilde Sapte on training, knowhow and precedents.  Experienced in plain language legal drafting and editing, she is quoted in the Law Society's textbook "Clarity for Lawyers". She is now Denton Wilde Sapte's plain language co-ordinator.

4:20pm  Forensic phonetics - the analysis of evidential speech recordings for the Courts.

Allen Hirson, City University London (due to the nature of the material in Allen's session it has not be possible to add his slides or video)

Allen is a senior lecturer in acoustic phonetics in the Department of Language and Communication Science at City University London. Additional to his teaching interests he is regularly called upon as an expert witness in the area of forensic phonetics, the analysis of evidential speech recordings.


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When & where

12.00am - 12.00amTuesday 13th October 2009