With a cross-university membership, the Centre for Law, Science and Policy harnesses the range of expertise at Birmingham City University. The Centre presently hosts collaborations between the School of Law and other faculties at BCU.
Business, Law and Social Sciences
The main focus of the Centre’s intra-faculty collaborations is exploring intersections of law and psychology, including the application of psychological theoretical frameworks and research methods to problem-solve legal issues. Current projects include jury decision-making and expert evidence, juror assessment of liability for joint enterprise, best practice models for Nightingale Courts, and public perceptions of EU harmonisation and insolvency law.
Art, Design and Media
In addition to collaborating across ADM to support BCU’s role in the Midlands 4 Cities Doctoral Training Partnership funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Centre hosts a partnership with corpus linguistics experts in the School of English, applying the tools and analytical frameworks of corpus linguistics to analyse voluminous legal corpora. Existing projects include explorations of UK Supreme Court judgments relating to equality and fan-fiction forums.
Heath, Education, and Life Sciences
The Centre connects the School of Law with departments across HELS, including Nursing and Midwifery, Dietetics, Physiotherapy, Radiography and Operating Department Practice. The focus of the collaboration is the development of comprehensive healthcare tribunal simulations, designed to provide healthcare profession a meaningful opportunity to experience how their practice would be evaluated in a tribunal setting, and to equip law students with the skills required to provide quality representation.
Jury Decision-making (BLSS)
Staff: Dr Sarah Cooper and Dr Paraic Scanlon
In the US, unreliable forensic science evidence is a known cause of wrongful conviction. Dr Sarah Cooper’s research examining US court responses to scientific uncertainty, identified that some courts have addressed alleged uncertainty in firearms identification evidence by restricting expert testimony, including by instructing experts to not testify in absolute terms, such as “there is an exact match,” but rather in allegedly more diluted terms, such as a match can be made “more likely than not” and “to a reasonable degree of certainty.” Jurors, who generally lack scientific expertise, must determine the weight of such evidence in criminal trials, yet there is limited knowledge about thow they interpret specific expert phrases. Since 2016, Dr. Cooper and Dr Paraic Scanlon have been using their respective expertise in law and psychology to design and co-ordinate mock juror studies that investigate this gap in knowledge. The research is typically carried out using an online questionnaire, with participants asked to rank their level of certainty of various expert statements, on a scale of zero to one hundred. Participants are generally recruited via academic, professional, and community links across the US, and are screened against the eligibility criteria to sit on a federal jury. The data collected is statistically analyzed. Dr. Cooper and Dr. Scanlon have published their findings and disseminated their research at practitioner conferences in the US and at the European Association of Psychology and Law annual conference. The study series has been supported by multiple Faculty Small Development Grants, funding numerous students to collaborate with the academic team.
EU Harmonisation (BLSS)
Staff: Dr Emilie Ghio and Dr John Galvin
This cross-disciplinary project studies selected legal issues from a legal, as well as psychological perspective. The overall objective of the project is to use the field of psychology to find answers to several questions related to specific legal topics, such as legal harmonisation, insolvency law, and international legal co-operation. The first element of this project is an empirical study on the Public Perception of EU Legal Harmonisation. The second element of this project focused on cross-border insolvency law. The third element of the project is nested within the Law and Society Association International Research Collaboration which collaborates with Prof. Ricardo Perlingeiro (Brazil) entitled “New Challenges for Transnational Civil and Commercial Law in the Wake of the Covid-19 Pandemic” One stream of this project focuses on law and psychology, in particular how behavioural psychology theories on groups and cooperation can inform international legal co-operation in times of crises. The questions which will be studied include “In times of crisis, are state actors around the world more or less likely to cooperate with each other? Will judicial cooperation be on the rise or, on the other hand, put on the backburner, at least temporarily?”
Healthcare Tribunals (HELS)
Staff: Dr Friso Jansen, School of Life Sciences
A collaborative project was initiated with the Health, Education and Life Sciences Faculty (HELS) to investigate using an interdisciplinary collaboration the process and conduct of (para)medical fitness to practice tribunals. The aim is to create an interactive teaching resource, by enabling both medical and law students to (re)enact a realist fitness to practice scenario in one of the mock courtrooms at BCU. Teaching materials that reflect very closely real-life cases that appeared before such tribunals will be made and student will be given training so that they can perform these scenario’s and experience the reality of professional regulatory standards being upheld by such a body. The collaboration with a group of students in both designing these scenarios and running them in the Courtroom has been vital to develop a teaching resource that has a wide application.
On the Record (HELS & ADM)
Staff: Dr. Sarah Cooper, Bernie St Aubyn, and Amanda Andrews
Students: Mercedes Cooling, Sheya Bradley, Manaar Dayoub, Rose Tempowski, Geraint Evans, Dominic Giles, Khalila Darrell, and Craig Aldous
The keeping of good quality records by nurses is linked with improvements in patient care. In the event a nurse must account for their patient care, poor records may be scrutinised by legal professions, and limit a nurse’s ability to evidence competent practice. ’On the Record’ is a collaboration between academics in the School of Law and School of Nursing and Midwifery, which aims to bridge the knowledge gap between nursing and legal practitioners, academics, and students through creating a comprehensive Fitness to Practice Hearing simulation experience.Inspired by real-life examples, the team designed a Fitness to Practice Hearing simulation, highlighting poor and strong examples of record-keeping by nurses. The simulation follows Patient A, who has died following complications with diabetes. Nurses X, Y, and Z (played by nursing students) provided care for Patient A, and kept varying quality records. Following Patient A’s death, the nurses must account for their practice in a Fitness to Practice Tribunal before the Nursing and Midwifery Council, where they are cross-examined by a legal representative (played by three law students). The simulation was filmed and produced by a student from the faculty of Art, Media and Design. The collaboration has produced a filmed simulation, series of fictitious cases files, and legal representative questioning plans, which will be built into a teaching resource for academics, students, and practitioners.
Corpus Linguistics (ADM)
Staff: Dr Anne Richardson Oakes, Matt Gee, and Dr Tatiana Tkacukova
In an age of diversity, equality is a central democratic value and fundamental to understandings of procedural and substantive fairness. UK law offers a patchwork of legal guarantees but their interrelationship is little understood and the underlying judicial assumptions are not easy to unpick. This project uses the methodology of corpus linguistics to interrogate the language of equality in the first ten years of UK Supreme Court jurisprudence. This interdisciplinary project brings together legal and corpus linguistics experts to use the methodology of corpus linguistics to interrogate the language of equality in the first ten years of UK Supreme Court jurisprudence. It aims to further understand judicial decision-making and assess this new methodology as a mechanism for knowledge generation. Supported by a postgraduate student recruited through the Centre for American Legal Studies’ collaboration with Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, the team have collated and organised the relevant case law corpus, identified themes in the case law, and began a provisional corpus linguistics analysis.