IALS W G Hart Legal Workshop

W.G. Hart Legal Workshop

The W.G. Hart Legal Workshop is a major annual legal research event organised and hosted by the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. Over the years this eponymous workshop series, subsidised by funds from the W.G. Hart Bequest, has focused on a wide range of comparative and international legal issues and topical interests.

2017 W.G. Hart Legal Workshop : Call for Workshop Proposals and the Nomination of Academic Directors  in collaboration with the University of London Law Schools


The W.G. Hart Legal Workshop 2016 entitled: Valuing Expertise: Legal, Normative and Social Dimensions - will be held at the Institute from Tuesday 20 September 2016 to Wednesday 21 September 2016.

Academic Directors

Professor Richard Ashcroft (Queen Mary University of London),
Dr Nicolette Priaulx
(Cardiff University),
Professor Matthew Weait
(University of Portsmouth)

2016 W.G. Hart Legal Workshop : Call for Papers

For events details, please see http://events.sas.ac.uk/events/view/19787

From expert evidence in the courtroom, to the use of scientific knowledge in the justification for, and framing of, legislation, law and science are inextricably intertwined. Yet the extent to which science is well represented in law has long been doubted by virtue of a ‘clash of cultures’ (Jasanoff 1992). The issue has become more pressing in recent years due to the growth of scientific and technological innovation, which draws into the adjudicative, legislative and policy realms areas of great scientific complexity for which legal expertise, in and of itself, proves insufficient (Vick 2004; Schrama 2011). Such work also highlights the significant barriers and obstacles for regulators understanding other disciplines and the problems that can result. The same dangers confront non-legal disciplinary experts that are drawn into, or whose work is ‘dropped’ in, the legal and political realms. Disciplines are akin to foreign cultures, with different languages, norms and forms of life and actors become disciplined, and acquire the tacit knowledge inhabiting their fields by virtue of social immersion. It is the socialisation within the expert domain which provides the ‘deep understanding’ underpinning expertise (Collins and Evans 2007). The logical corollary of this is that a lack of socialisation within target disciplines results in the absence of a deep appreciation of what is going on in other fields. Despite serious ramifications for justice, the detailed work necessary to develop tools and interactional expertise for bridging a science-law gap that is far wider and more complex than is typically appreciated, is missing.

This workshop seeks to bring together a range of scholars, policy actors and others, whose diverse and innovative work addresses the complex meeting point of law and science, regulation and politics, evidence and epistemology. We welcome contributions that help to facilitate a conversation that can more broadly investigate the barriers to the kind of interdisciplinary understanding necessary for evidence-based legal and policy practice, and to map in concrete contexts how a commitment to evidence-based approaches would impact upon legal and public policy. We actively encourage participation in the workshop from early career scholars. The workshop will invite key contributors to speak to the core themes:-

  • The Relationship of Expert Knowledge to Governance
  • Law’s Knowledge
  • Identifying Expertise – Demarcating the boundary between science and policy
  • Using Expertise
  • Measuring Expertise
  • The Politics of Expertise
  • Judging Expertise


The key aim of the workshop is to draw together a range of scholarship and work around the manner by which science, regulation and politics meet for which ‘expertise’ constitutes an organising concept. We will seek to publish a selection of some of the works and findings that arise in the course of the workshop in a special issue of a leading UK journal.


The W.G. Hart Legal Workshops began in 1981, building on the success of previous Legal Workshops organised at the Institute with support from the Ford Foundation in the early years.

Collected papers from several of the annual Legal Workshops have been published and copies are catalogued and held in the IALS Global Law Library. The Institute plans to make selected past papers available to researchers in the IALS section of the SAS-Space institutional E-repository.