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Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Mon Mar 15 13:40:20 UTC 2004

Forwarded from Linguist-List

International Conference: Clarity and Obscurity in Legal Language

Date: 05-Jul-2005 - 09-Jul-2005
Location: Boulogne sur Mer, France
Contact: Anne Wagner
Contact Email: valwagnerfr at
Meeting URL:

Linguistic Sub-field: Forensic Linguistics
Subject Language: English

Call Deadline: 01-Dec-2004

Meeting Description:

Thematic areas: Law, Plain Legal Languages, Semiotics, Applied
Linguistics, Discourse Analysis, Text/Corpus Linguistics,
Sociolinguistics, Language Teaching and Learning, Genre Analysis,
Conversation Analysis, Ethnolinguistics.


Clarity and Obscurity in Legal Language

>>From 05 July 2005 to 09 July 2005
Boulogne-sur-Mer (France) : Universit du Littoral Cte d'Opale.

Organised under the auspices of CERCLE, quipe VolTer (Vocabulaire,
Lexique et Terminologie) and of LARJ (Laboratoire de Recherches
Juridiques) - Universit du Littoral - Cte d'Opale in
collaboration with Clarity.

Organising committee

Co-Chairs :
Anne WAGNER , Maitre de Conferences, specialite : Langues et Droit
Universite du Littoral - Cote d'Opale
Prof. Joseph KIMBLE
President and Membership Secretary of Clarity
Thomas M. Cooley Law School

Members :
Nicole Fernbach
Juricom, Inc. et Centre International de Lisibilite, Inc.

Edward Caldwell
Statute Law Society and
Law Commission for England and Wales

Olivier Carton
Membre du Laboratoire de Recherches Juridiques
Charge d'enseignements
Universit du Littoral - Cte d'Opale

Conference secretariat  :

Catherine Wadoux et Monique Random
17, rue du Puits d'Amour
B.P. 751
62321 Boulogne-sur-Mer Cedex
Tel : 03-21-99-45-60
Fax : 03-21-99-45-61

Conference Website :
Webmaster : Samuel Adam

Program Committee

Co-chairs :
Anne WAGNER , Maitre de Conferences, specialite : Langues et
Droit.  and Nicole Fernbach, jurilinguiste

Members :

Ross Charnock, Universite Paris 9 - Dauphine
Jan Engberg, Aarhus School of Business
Sophie Cacciaguidi, University of Galway
Lawrence Solan, Brooklyn Law School
Maurizio Gotti, University of Bergamo et cerlis
Vijay K. Bhatia, City University of Hong Kong et GILD MMC
Danile Bourcier, CNRS, Paris II
Lionel Levert, Ministre de la Justice du Canada
Stefania Dragone-Birocchi, Commission Europeenne (TBC)
U.S. representative (TBC)
Hillary Penfold, Australia (TBC)
David Elliott, Private Practice (TBC)
Christopher Balmford, Private Practice, cleardocs

Key Words :
Law, Legal language, Plain Language, Legal Translation, Legal Drafting
and Writing, Multilingualism and the Law, Common Law writing or
drafting vs Civil law writing or drafting, Simplification,
Readability, Access to the Law, Document Design, Computer-assisted

Length of presentations: 30 - 40 minutes.


Legal language involves a complex mix of history, tradition, rules,
and forms. It derives from factors as diverse as convention, fear of
change, reliance on formbooks, habits acquired during legal training,
and notions (perhaps false notions) of prestige. Very often, the
resulting language is unclear and obscure not only to non-lawyers but
even to the legal community itself. Can anything be done about this ?
Should anything be done ?

This international conference will explore how the various linguistic
disciplines can help us understand the nature of legal language - both
oral and written - and how it might be improved and clarified. The
conference will present and examine the latest research and theories,
along with practical guidance on how to avoid obscurity. It will also
review international efforts and projects to make legal language more

Main topics of the conference

Plenary sessions (English and French)
* The quest for clarity in law : historical overview. Why the
complexity ? How to change it and make clarity mainstream. Overcoming
the obstacles to plain language.

* The clarity toolbox : best practices in legal writing and
drafting. How to clarify legal texts. The influence of
technology. Learning and teaching viewed by professionals in legal
writing and drafting.

* Plain language in a multidisciplinary context (Law, Linguistics,
Semiotics, Communications, Information Design).

* Plain language in the judicial context : speech acts in courts ;
court decisions and jury instructions ; social equality aspects.

* Common Law and Civil law : differences in their approach to clarity

Roundtables (English and French)
* International development of the Plain Language network.

* History of the movement towards clarity in law, its scope,
theoretical aspects and practical achievements.

* Multilingual law and the search for clarity in translation and

Countries under review

Europe :
Finland, Sweden, Norway, United Kingdom, Italy, France, Belgium,
Spain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland.

Americas, Africa, Caribbean and Pacific :
U.S.A, Canada , Australia , New Zealand , Mexico , China .


Abstract should be no longer than 400 words. They can include
references but should not contain a bibliography.

Abstracts should be sent in English even if the presentation is to be
in French. In case of any difficulty in translating into English,
please ask us for assistance.

Abstracts should contain :
a - Title of the presentation
b - Name(s) of the author(s)
c - Affiliation of the author(s)
d - Both e-mail and postal addresses.

Only abstracts meeting the above criteria will be considered.

Abstracts should be sent by e-mail to Anne WAGNER
(valwagnerfr at ).

Call Deadline : December 2004

Official Acceptance : February 2005

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