Centre for Language and Law

The CLL’s research focuses on contemporary legal issues and complex societal problems in a digital age, with focus on inequalities and resultant injustice.  The research covers broad areas such as internet regulation, debt collection practices and children’s social care hearings.



The Centre for Language and Law (CLL) is a new Centre for Aston University. 

The CLL’s initial projects use multi-method analyses of written legal material.  The projects are establishing a linguistic analysis of legal texts in the context of digital justice, looking specifically at intersectionality.   To contextualise this work, the analysis also considers the impact and integrity of evidential statements, identifying features of effective testimony and how this affects ‘justice’.  The CLL is also working on term definition research, including a cross-section of areas of law particularly prone to creating social injustices and inequalities such as safeguarding and child protection proceedings, internet regulation and debt collection. 

Our People

Research staff
Stephen Parker
Lecturer in Law
Email: s.parker3@aston.ac.uk
 Honorary staff 
Dr Juliette Scott
Legal Translation Practitioner, Researcher & Consultant
Email: juliette.scott@tiscali.co.uk
John O'Shea 
Legal Translation Practitioner
Email: info@jurtrans.com

Prof Lauren Devine
Professor of Linguistics and Law 
Lancaster University
Email: l.devine@lancaster.ac.uk



Intersectionality and digital justice: navigating the liminal spaces of lawtech

This project considers intersectionality in the modern, digital legal environment.  The lawtech agenda explores technological possibilities to advance a cost-saving agenda across the legal system.  This project considers this use of technology to automate justice in the context of intersectionality and its consequences, identifying, analysing and explaining the resultant liminal spaces inhabited by those seeking justice. The research uses a central linguistic analysis to explore and explain the issues.  By identifying and focusing on interdisciplinary thresholds at the frontier of the lawtech agenda, the project offers analysis of the liminal spaces certain groups in society must navigate in the legal system, and what they mean for the concept of justice.  This unique analysis draws a variety of linguistic methods to offer explanation of the costs and benefits and the implications for policy, practice of technology-driven legal innovation. 

Discourses of Disaster: expert evidence about parenting capacity in suspected child abuse cases

This project continues Professor Devine’s work in safeguarding and child protection law, policy and practice.  In this project she focusses on the issues relating to the use of psychologists’ expert evidence in cases of suspected child abuse.  Using a large corpus of reports submitted to UK family courts in s.31 Care Order Applications, the project analyses the language and content of the reports, and their impact on the legal outcomes.  This analysis provides policy commentary and recommendation and highlights disconnect between the aims of the Public Law Outline and those of the experts consulted, resulting in outcomes which are dictated by procedural constraints rather than justice.  The research is particularly concerned with the impact of vague language in experts’ reports and the resultant lack of ability of the court to verify the reliability of the evidence presented.