Over the past few years, the study of humanitarianism has emerged as an interdisciplinary subfield in international political sociology. This article maps out some preliminary ideas about the role of legal sociology in this project. The study of international humanitarian law has overwhelmingly been the terrain of doctrinal legal scholars, while the apparent lack of other law has meant that, until recently, legal sociologists have paid little attention to the humanitarian sector. There has also been little scholarly concern regarding the consequences of not asking questions about the role of law in the humanitarian project. We argue that legal sociology helps us understand how rules, standards and norms shape and are shaped by practices and interactions within and across humanitarian spaces globally, and how law contributes to humanitarian governance.
This article focuses on the use of expert knowledge as a basis for legal decisions in serious criminal cases. Using a model that describes rhetorical situations, as well as empirical material based on 150 court decisions, the aim is to analyse the conditions surrounding the use of expert evidence in criminal law processes, to what extent and by whom such evidence is used, and how it affects the outcome of the cases. The rhetorical situation in criminal cases is reconstructed to include the exigence (urgent issue that requires addressing) and, thereby, the related discourse, in order to retrieve relevant conditions, which could be identified as evidentially favourable or unfavourable to the suspect and the prosecutor respectively. It is concluded that there is a theoretical imbalance between the parties to the benefit of the defendant. Empirically grounded analysis of the criminal cases shows, however, that the defendant’s theoretical advantage does not correspond to the actual situation in court. The results indicate that the defendant usually adopts a passive stance and therefore does not use favourable constraints effectively. The study also shows that the defendant’s chances of winning the case increase when they use written expert evidence and expert witnesses.
In this article, it is argued that legislation must be drafted clearly, simply and precisely, especially when it pertains to ordinary citizens. This involves ensuring that the legislation sets out clear procedures so that those applying it know how they should act in order to attain legally correct and valid results. To illustrate the potential benefits of this ʻprocedural approach’ to legislative drafting, the article focuses on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) enacted by the European Union in 2016. The article explores hidden and tacit procedural questions related to the parts of the Regulation that deal with the legal basis for processing personal data, in particular the use of data subject consent as one such basis. The article shows how it is possible to restructure these parts of the Regulation so that they are less fragmented and more intelligible. Another core point made by the article is that a ʻprocedural approach’ to legislative drafting is highly desirable for the development of computerised decision-support systems. A non-procedural, fragmented approach to drafting legislation, as is manifest in the GDPR, must be abandoned if the legal system is to become an integral part of a computerised society.