Linda Mulcahy is the Professor of Socio-Legal Studies and the Director of the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies. She has degrees in law, legal theory, sociology and art history and her work has a strong interdisciplinary flavour. Linda has previously held posts at the LSE, Birkbeck, the Law Commission and Bristol University. She has taken on a number of senior management roles including institutional head of Degree programmes, Head of Department and Dean of Arts. She specialises in dispute resolution and the ways in which lay users experience the legal system. She has undertaken a number of empirical studies of disputes between business people in the car distribution industry, divorcing couples, doctors and patients and neighbours on council estates. Her work has been funded by a range of bodies including the Economic and Social Research Council, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Nuffield Foundation, the Department of Health, the NHS Executive, the Leverhulme Trust and the Lotteries Board.
Linda’s publications span a number of different topics including the socio-legal dynamics of disputes, the design of law courts, feminist and relational perspectives on contract law, visual representations of law and legal methodology. Her most recent book, The Democratic Courthouse authored with Emma Rowden, was published in November 2019. Linda served as an editor of the International Journal of Social and Legal Studies for ten years and is currently a member of the Advisory Board of the Journal of Law and Society.
Linda has played an active role in the Socio-Legal Studies Association and continues to have a keen interest in capacity building in the field. She was Chair of the SLSA for three years and has served twice as its Treasurer. Linda has a particular interest in training and supporting research students and early career academics. She was involved in the organisation of the SLSA annual postgraduate conference for over twenty years and now runs an annual methodology masterclass for research students which is funded by the ESRC. While at the LSE Linda served as the Director of the ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership and subsequently took the lead in establishing the LSE PhD Academy, a multi-disciplinary advice and advanced training hub. At Oxford she teaches on the methodology course run by the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies and has also set up a new course on qualitative methodology for lawyers.
Linda regularly acts as a research consultant to government bodies, regulators and NGOs and has worked closely with the Public Law Project, JUSTICE, the Howard League for Penal Reform and the Law Centres Network. She has recently been re-elected as is a member of the Council of Justice and is working with the Law Centres Network on a history of radical lawyering. She is an academic advisor on the board of the British Library Life Stories Project. Linda is also a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.
Linda regularly travels around the world giving papers and has had Visiting Professor positions at the Faculty of Law in the University of Melbourne and in the School of Architecture at the University of Teachnology in Sydney. She is currently a Visiting Professor at the Australian National University.
- DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-2230.12685In recent years scholars have become increasingly concerned with the impact of the ‘vanishing trial’ on common law civil justice systems that rely heavily on precedent. This article updates previous accounts of the vanishing trial in England and Wales, showing that the rapid decline which prompted earlier debate has levelled off. This provides an essential backdrop to the discussion of the production of precedent which the article goes on to discuss. The final section of the article contests the assumption that vanishing trials lead to a decline in precedent, drawing on a collation and analysis of seventy years of government data on civil litigation cases. It shows that, despite contra-predictions, the number of appellate court judgments has increased while cases coming into the system and proceeding to trial have decreased. Further, it considers what House of Lords and Supreme Court data reveal about demand for precedent and the sort of cases that are taking up a greater proportion of Supreme Court time in the twenty first century.DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09695958.2020.1866578A considerable amount of literature exists on the office of the Lord Chancellor and the unique role of the holders of this office played in the British constitution for many hundreds of years. However, hardly any research has been undertaken on the civil servants that worked in the Lord Chancellor's Office and the way in which they assisted the navigation of a difficult path between matters pertaining to the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government. Drawing on an extensive review of the archives relating to the Courts Act 1971, this article draws attention to the elite band of lawyers who made up the office and the ways in which their scant knowledge of the administration of justice was exposed in the corridors of Whitehall in the years that followed this Act coming into effect. The events we describe are of particular interest because they occurred away from the public gaze, behind the scenes in Whitehall and because they represented a transformation of the role of the office from policy makers to service providers.DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09695958.2021.1877715Government lawyers have been rather neglected by scholars interested in the workings of the legal profession and the role of professional groups in contemporary society. This is surprising given the potential for them to influence the internal workings of an increasingly legalistic and centralised state. This article aims to partly fill this gap by looking at the way that lawyers employed by the government and the administrators they work with talk about their jobs. It draws on the findings of a large-scale empirical study of government lawyers in seven departments, funded by the ESRC and undertaken by Philip Lewis between 2002–2003. By looking at lawyers in bureaucracies the interviews conducted revealed much about the work that government lawyers do, their relationship with other civil servants and the subtle influences on policy that they are able to exert.DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-2230.12685In recent years scholars have become increasingly concerned with the impact of the ‘vanishing trial’ on common law civil justice systems that rely heavily on precedent. This article updates previous accounts of the vanishing trial in England and Wales, showing that the rapid decline which prompted earlier debate has levelled off. This provides an essential backdrop to the discussion of the production of precedent which the article goes on to discuss. The final section of the article contests the assumption that vanishing trials lead to a decline in precedent, drawing on a collation and analysis of seventy years of government data on civil litigation cases. It shows that, despite contra-predictions, the number of appellate court judgments has increased while cases coming into the system and proceeding to trial have decreased. Further, it considers what House of Lords and Supreme Court data reveal about demand for precedent and the sort of cases that are taking up a greater proportion of Supreme Court time in the twenty first century.DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09695958.2020.1866578A considerable amount of literature exists on the office of the Lord Chancellor and the unique role of the holders of this office played in the British constitution for many hundreds of years. However, hardly any research has been undertaken on the civil servants that worked in the Lord Chancellor's Office and the way in which they assisted the navigation of a difficult path between matters pertaining to the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government. Drawing on an extensive review of the archives relating to the Courts Act 1971, this article draws attention to the elite band of lawyers who made up the office and the ways in which their scant knowledge of the administration of justice was exposed in the corridors of Whitehall in the years that followed this Act coming into effect. The events we describe are of particular interest because they occurred away from the public gaze, behind the scenes in Whitehall and because they represented a transformation of the role of the office from policy makers to service providers.DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09695958.2021.1877715Government lawyers have been rather neglected by scholars interested in the workings of the legal profession and the role of professional groups in contemporary society. This is surprising given the potential for them to influence the internal workings of an increasingly legalistic and centralised state. This article aims to partly fill this gap by looking at the way that lawyers employed by the government and the administrators they work with talk about their jobs. It draws on the findings of a large-scale empirical study of government lawyers in seven departments, funded by the ESRC and undertaken by Philip Lewis between 2002–2003. By looking at lawyers in bureaucracies the interviews conducted revealed much about the work that government lawyers do, their relationship with other civil servants and the subtle influences on policy that they are able to exert.DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/jols.12266This volume pays tribute to the many achievements of Philip Aneurin Thomas. When asked to write a biographical account of his life, I was struck by how many beginnings Phil had been involved in. Early experiences in the United States and East Africa made him part of an important group of scholars who brought new ways of thinking about law and the law school to the United Kingdom in the 1970s. He was there at the beginning of the socio-legal movement, making a major contribution to the multi-disciplinary research environment that socio-legal scholars now take for granted, and instrumental in establishing a number of institutions, including this journal. Finally, his personal and academic trajectory cannot be fully understood without an understanding of the importance of his being Welsh and a committed socialist.DOI: doi.org/10.1111/jols.12217This article addresses the role that computer software programs play in the sort of textual analysis that has typically been the preserve of the qualitative researcher. Drawing on two distinct research projects conducted separately by the authors, it considers the transformation of social science software from a competent assistant that can help to sort and retrieve data, to an intelligent assistant capable of independently finding trends and counter‐arguments, to a co‐investigator capable of doing things that human researchers cannot. In addition to challenging some of the claims of ‘siliconistas’, this article considers the impact of new technology on the aesthetics of research and the professional identity of qualitative researchers. In doing so, it raises some important questions about how well we are training early‐career academics for the challenges that they are likely to face in the future world of socio‐legal empirical research.DOI: 10.1177/1743872115625951Conventional legal responses to street art have tended to characterize it as a problem that is best dealt with through criminal or property law. This is not necessarily perceived of as a problem by street artists who have actively sought to situate understandings of their work outside of the law. But attitudes are changing. Street art is increasingly seen as having commercial value, enhancing the cityscape, creating new local art markets, attracting tourists, and contributing to the gentrification of impoverished areas. The result is that conventional ways of conceiving of street art have begun to pose new challenges to concepts of crime and property. Drawing on an observational study in London, this article proposes a new theorization of the legal problems posed by street art that pays close attention to the sensual experience of encountering it in the city and to street art as performance rather than artefact.DOI: 10.1177/1743872115623173DOI: 10.1017/S1744552318000241This paper offers a revisionist history of the banning of photography in English and Welsh courts in 1925 and explores the contention that a complete rationale for the ban has never been adequately articulated. While existing accounts of the ban have placed emphasis on the outrage caused by press coverage of a handful of sensational murder trials, this paper offers the first comprehensive analysis of photographs of trial scenes in the decades leading up to the ban. In doing so, it argues that the exposure of the legal system to scrutiny by the press and public, made possible by new technologies and reporting practices, was much more pervasive than has previously been suggested. It also contends that, although parliamentarians claimed that the purpose of the ban was to protect vulnerable members of the public, it actually did a much better job of preserving the interests of the legal, political and social elite, including judges, against a backdrop of fears about an increasingly disrespectful populace. More particularly, it is suggested that the ban allowed the state to take back its monopoly over the production, management and consumption of images of judges and other key actors in the courtroom in an effort to re-impose social order and retain the mystery of law.DOI: 10.1111/jols.12052A number of sub-disciplines have emerged in recent years with the specific goal of examining the visual dynamics of academic fields of inquiry. The turn to the visual masks a multitude of meanings about the significance of the image, ranging from new ways of defining a field of inquiry, to what constitutes legitimate sources for research or discussions of image production or visual prompts as a data collection method. This article asks what it means for socio-legal scholars to engage with the image and the opportunity it might provide us with to see what law looks like from the perspective of law's subjects. These might include art installations in galleries, images of the places where justice is administered as well as photographs created by those who are subjected to legal regulation. In addition to a written essay I offer up three visual essays which can be read and contemplated with or without the written text which accompanies them.DOI: 10.1007/s10691-015-9280-xThis paper provides a revisionist account of the authority and power of the criminal mugshot. Dominant theories in the ﬁeld have tended to focus on the ways in which mugshots have been used as a way of disciplining criminal bodies and rendering them docile. It is argued here that additional emphasis could usefully be placed on stories of resistance in which the monological production site of the prison or police station transforms into a dialogical site, in which the objects of police photography can acquire agency. These issues are explored with particular reference to a set of photographs of English suffragettes acquired by the police for surveillance purposes. The suffragette’s refusal to comply with requests to have their photographs taken is used as a case study through which to examine the ways in which conventions about the form of the mugshot can be subverted, ideas about the types of people who were the object/subject of mugshots disrupted and the assumption of documentary neutrality undermined.DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-6478.2015.00695.xDOI: 10.1111/j.1467-6478.2015.00698.xThis article provides a revisionist account of the role of women in the legal system in the latter decades of the nineteenth century. Contrary to assertions that women played no role in trials other than as defendants and witnesses for most of our legal history, it suggests that women were much more active in the public sphere of Victorian law courts than previously envisaged. Drawing on depictions of trials in popular visual culture and fine art, it also reveals how images of the active female spectator challenged the emergence of new codes of behaviour which sought to protect the masculine realm of law from corruption by the feminine. It is argued that images have much to reveal about the socio-legal dynamics of trials and the ways in which fine art has been complicit in the construction and reconstruction of behavioural codes in the courtroom.DOI: 10.1093/medlaw/fwu007This article considers the interface between the standard setting activity of the NHS Litigation Authority, and the courts and uses the clinical negligence action as a prism through which to examine it. It is suggested that despite its many disadvantages, the clinical negligence action remains an important safety valve when internal regulatory systems fail or are insufﬁciently transparent to gain full legitimacy. More speciﬁcally, it explores the ways in which attitudes about the usefulness of the data contained in claims against the NHS have changed in the aftermath of a number of high proﬁle inquiries which have focused on issues of poor performance. The article concludes that while much greater use is now been made of the data contained in claims when setting standards, strategies for prompting judicial precedent as an alternative way of mobilising standard setting behaviour remain under developed.DOI: 10.1093/ojls/gqs032This article considers the relationship between the interests of individual litigants and the facilitation of doctrine for the collective good. More specifically, it examines the extent to which the policy and rules governing the management of civil litigation reflect a genuine commitment to the development of the common law. It is argued that litigation models in England send out conflicting messages about the commitment our society has to nurturing precedents and that we remain ambivalent about whether resources should be directed to identifying cases with precedent-setting potential. Contrary to recent policy statements that encourage disputants to resolve issues in private forums such as mediation, this article concludes that the time is ripe to turn our attention to the equally important issue of how to ensure that certain types of cases reach a public forum.DOI: 10.1177/1743872111398064In recent years there has been a burgeoning interest in the relationship between law, art and politics. New work in the field encourages us to explore the ways in which art can pose a threat to the supposed rationality of modern law by appealing to imagination and emotion. This article explores these general themes with reference to a specific controversy about a series of bas relief sculptures depicting Justitia which were placed on the side of what was arguably the most spectacular law court to be built in England in the nineteenth century. Although this episode has been explored by art historians, hardly any attention has been drawn to what the episode reveals about the political work that art was, and is, expected to undertake on behalf of the elite and legal establishment. This article attempts to bridge that gap by exploring the extent to which the creator of public artwork, so often a handmaiden of the State when helping us to imagine justice, is also capable of presenting us with subversive images of our Goddess which can, and should, disturb us.DOI: 10.1093/bjc/azt037This article considers the extent to which the on-going use of the dock in criminal proceedings can be justified. It is argued that the use of the dock interferes with the defendant’s ability to participate in the trial, the right to counsel and the presumption of innocence. This has been recognized in some jurisdictions and, in the United Kingdom, its use has been criticized by key stakeholders in the criminal justice system. Despite the launching of campaigns for its abolition, the English dock is becoming increasingly fortified and continues to be used to incarcerate defendants in trials involving minor charges. Drawing on previously unexplored archives and data from the United States, this article seeks to understand justifications for the retention of the dock and the reasons why campaigns for its abolition have failed.DOI: 10.1080/09615768.2008.11427706This article looks at the story behind the building of the Manchester Assize Courts and the symbolic importance that can be attached to its construction by legal scholars. It attempts to build on the burgeoning literature on legal architecture, some of which has begun to invite us to look at the spatial dynamics of courtrooms and their implications for due process. The courts and adjacent judges’ lodgings, which were designed by Alfred Waterhouse to mark the granting of a new Assize, tell us much about expectations of law in the mid-nineteenth century. Built during an era in which civic pride was expressed most forcefully through the medium of architecture, the building revealed much about prevailing notions of the appropriate relationship between the State, law, lawyers and legal subjects. I argue that far from being of only historical significance, the internal figurations of the courthouse and courtrooms reflects a particular conception of these relationships which continues to influence the way we think about the geography of modern courts and the ideologies that underpin contemporary uses of space in the legal arena.DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-6478.2008.00447.xThis article examines the implications of allowing witnesses to give evidence in trials from other locations through the medium of ‘live link’. Academic commentary on this technological aid has to date focused on the impact it has on the defendant's right to cross‐examine or the ability to judge demeanour. Whilst these issues are important, this essay focuses on a less commented on implication of live link; its impact on our conception of where and how adjudication takes place. Particular emphasis is placed on the ways in which the courtroom as the prime site of legal practice is in danger of being dematerialized and the effect this is likely to have on the legitimacy of the trial as an authentic legal and public ritual.DOI: 10.1177/0964663907079765This article looks at the interface between the design of courtrooms and the notion of participatory justice. In contrast to a vision of judicial space as neutral, this article argues that understanding the factors which determine the internal design of the courtroom is crucial to a broader and more nuanced understanding of judgecraft. The use of space in the courtroom has changed significantly since custom-built courthouses first appeared, and these changes often reflect struggles for territory. In this article I focus on the ways the role of the spectator has been marginalized within the court and led to the demise of the notion of ‘public’ trial. This has been achieved through a series of design guides which ensure that participants in the trial are isolated and surveyed. The origins of these guides can be traced to the mid-Victorian era in which the public were often conceived of as threatening and ‘dirty’.DOI: 10.1093/clp/58.1.215This paper considers some of the implications of the most radical reforms of the civil justice system to have been introduced in the last hundred years. In particular it analyses what has happened to cultures of adversarialism in the aftermath of the Woolf reforms. The issue is pertinent, as we watch the changes introduced bed down and practitioners clam down in the wake of a raft of reforms designed in part to ensure that civil procedure becomes cheaper and faster. More important, for present purposes, are the implications of the requirement that the various parties involved in litigation alter their expectations as to how they should behave in their quest for settlement or adjudication. A number of key issues arise from the analysis. Why is it that adversarial and uncooperative tendencies remain such a dominant part of the professional identify of lawyers? Is it the case that we are merely witnessing a transitional phase from a litigation system underpinned by the adversarial ideal to one based on more cooperation? Alternatively, could it be that there is something deep-rooted about adversarial tendencies that will serve to undermine the ethos promoted by the Woolf reforms? The issues raised are of particular importance for feminist debate about how marginalized voices can be heard in the civil justice arena. Can the shift towards cultures of cooperation ever be fully achieved whist masculine ideology and methodology dominate legal practice and education?DOI: 10.1080/09695950220141025The role of all professional groups has shifted with industrial maturity and changes to their work pattern and identity have been particularly evident in the post-Fordist era. Whilst it has been argued that the English legal profession has been hesitant in taking the initiative in entering into new markets, on the whole established professional groups such as lawyers and medics have been exceptionally nimble in finding new jobs and adjusting as old jobs disappear. This article considers the extent to which the introduction of a mediation pilot scheme by the Department of Health has been conceived of as a threat to the professional world of solicitors who specialise in medical negligence. It explores two key issues. To what extent did the move towards co-operative inter-dependence between opposing sides encouraged by mediation pose a challenge to the normative order of these specialists? Did the privileging of clients’ narratives over a legalistic one undermine the validity of lawyers’ claims to expert knowledge?This article draws on an empirical study of community mediation to question the possibility and desirability of mediator neutrality. It argues that, although the notion of neutrality is central to discussions of adjudication and mediation, debate on the topic remains intellectually flawed and empirically problematic. Emphasis on the aspirational nature of neutrality encourages us to ignore the suggestion that rather than facilitating fair process and outcome the standard of neutrality could serve to exacerbate existing inequalities between disputants. When discussed in the context of mediation the ideal becomes even more suspect as mediation promises 'alternatives' to the inadequacies of court-based adjudication. This article explores the questions raised by a group of mediators who rejected the possibility and desirability of mediation in favour of a more reflexive approach to third-party intervention in disputes. It suggests that, rather than aspiring to the empty goal of neutrality, we should be debating the possibility of partiality as an ethical standard to govern dispute resolution.DOI: 10.1111/1467-6478.00149This article revisits debate between academics and practitioners about the potential of community mediation. While mediation evangelicals make bold claims about the possibility of mediation helping to rebuild communities, academic critics have been suspicious of such contentions and claimed instead that mediation has provided just another route through which the state can interfere in the life of its citizens. It is argued here that debate on the topic has been clouded by unduly high expectations of disputes as agents of social change. Their importance has been understood by reference to their ability to rebuild communities or their potential to become test cases. It is argued here that mediated disputes make much more modest challenges to state authority but that they can be aided in this by the intervention of mediators prepared to take a pragmatic approach to the unachievable ideal of neutrality. The article does not conceive of community mediation as an alternative of the state or its agent. Rather, it suggests that mediators can be embedded within both worlds and act as message-bearers between them.Complaint systems within public sector services are important for two main reasons. They provide a source for the redress of grievances and they enable those who provide services to be held accountable. Indeed, it has been argued that in a healthy democracy, barriers to complaining should be minimised. The need for an effective complaint system is particularly crucial in the public sector. Public services are often in a monopoly position and the option of exiting a service is rarely available for the service-user. Considerable inequalities of bargaining power between service-provider and service-user are the norm and these are further exacerbated when a service based on particular expertise is being provided, as is the case in the NHS. Accountability in public services is often indirect and remote. The government departments, health authorities and other ad hoc agencies which make decisions and manage services may have little contact with those who use their services. Moreover, many public services are provided for those who are among the most vulnerable, frail and disadvantaged members of society. As the scope of government intervention has increased, and as matters of service provision have been devolved to quasi-governmental institutions, so the importance of mechanisms for redress and accountability has increased. In this paper, we examine complaint systems within the NHS and the extent to which these are open or closed. We focus particularly on complaint systems related to medical work. As professionals, doctors, and indeed other professional workers, are also subject to regulation through the courts under tort law and through their professional associations in relation to professional practice. These systems offer alternative ways for the citizen to complain and different forms of accountability. They are interconnected with NHS systems in a variety of ways. Although passing reference will be made to these, it is beyond the scope of this paper to examine these interconnections fully. Neither do we examine whether the systems outside the NHS are open or closed, although some of the general arguments we make could be applied to these other regulatory systems.DOI: 10.1111/1467-9566.00130This paper reports on the ﬁndings of three empirical studies, conducted by the authors, of how doctors respond to complaints about medical care. We found that doctors respond to complaints with a range of negative emotions, and interpreted complaints as a ‘challenge’ to their competence and expertise as professionals, not as issues troubling the complainant or as legitimate grievances. The interview data show that the way in which doctors talked about complaints and accounted for them drew on their understandings of their work world. We suggest that this helped them maintain a sense of control, and argue that this not only sustains individual security but also reinforces professional identity and serves the interests of professional politics. However, we conclude that this reaction to complaints goes against the spirit of resolving complaints to the satisfaction of the complainant which is currently the aim of systems for quality assurance.DOI: 10.1111/1467-9566.00131In this article the authors report the ﬁndings of a study of satisfaction, dissatisfaction and complaining, funded by the National Health Service Executive (NHSE). Although interest in these issues has increased with the introduction of the Citizen’s Charter Initiative and the continued growth of consumerism, few scholars have looked at the relationships between them. Satisfaction and dissatisfaction are commonly viewed as different facets of the same phenomenon. In turn, dissatisfaction is often understood to be a precursor to a complaint, or an embryonic one. The ﬁndings presented here suggest that satisfaction and dissatisfaction are linked but are essentially discrete constructs. The authors plot a variety of reactions to dissatisfaction and show that although excessive use is made of formal professional networks, few instances of dissatisfaction emerge as formal complaints. The article concludes that insufﬁcient attention has been paid to understanding the everyday ways in which people cope with dissatisfaction and decisions not to voice a grievance.DOI: 10.1080/09649069608410186This article considers one form of consumer activism which has been largely overlooked by academics: complaining. The results of a two-year study of hospital consultants' responses to complaints about medical care are presented. It is argued that complaints have a significant and lasting effect on doctors and that they can lead to a legitimation crisis for them. Complaints cause an initial deconstruction of identity which is followed by a reconstruction anchored in the rhetoric of scientific rationality. Rather than being seen as legitimate expressions of grievance, complaints are commonly portrayed by consultants as symptoms of illness or manifestations of the problem personalities of the complainant.DOI: 10.1136/qshc.4.2.135Complaints about the National Health Service (NHS) can be viewed as an irritating intrusion. Existing complaints systems are time consuming and stressful. Complaints cause extra work, may provide no visible reward, and can lead to disciplinary action. At worst, they can lead to protracted court actions for negligence against a trust or health agency. Yet, Being Heard, the review of complaints systems in the NHS commissioned by the Department of Health'; discussion documents published by the Complaints' Task Force; and a growing body of management literature suggest that complaints can provide opportunities for risk managers and quality managers as well as threats. Moreover, the case for including complaints in risk management programmes has been increased by health service reforms, which have left hospital trusts responsible for financing claims made against them and accountable to purchasers for the way in which they handle complaints. In the United Kingdom the NHS Executive has made reference to complaints as one of several indicators of risk due to adverse events. Complaints can be used positively in several ways. They can provide an opportunity for providers to see themselves and their service as others see them and to identify the issues which concern users. Most importantly, complaints can allow for rectifying a past mistake and enabling services to be put right for the future. A well handled complaint can increase a patient's trust in doctors, nurses, other healthcare staff, and managers. Finally, complaints can enable the identification of adverse events which might otherwise go undetected, and they act as an early warning system for legal claims. Lessons can be learnt from individual complaints, and - if properly categorised, contextualised, recorded, and analysed - complaints can identify areas for action. But how far are these messages applicable to dealing with clinical complaints in healthcare settings? Are there aspects of doing clinical work - that is, any expert work on the body which pose special problems? Even if there are, can clinical complaints be used more effectively for clinical risk management programmes? This paper begins with a brief discussion of the present complaints system and changes proposed in the Wilson report, which form the basis for the government's response, Acting on Complaints. It examines the barriers to effective handling of complaints and what complainants and the organisation want from the system. The final section examines the key factors in developing good practice in handling complaints. The focus is on mechanisms internal to the trust or general practice. Whatever the final shape of guidelines developed by the Department of Health, chief executives, clinicians, and managers will need to develop their own approach. We suggest that this will bring benefits for patient care as well as for risk management.DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9930.1994.tb00122.xDrawing on a study of 399 hospital complaints entering the National Health Service's formal complaints procedure and twenty-five interviews with managers who deal with complaints, this paper reviews the nature of the roles played by the managers. Emphasis is placed on the variety of roles they adopt according to the nature of the complaint made, the person complained about, and the implications of the allegations. The managers, viewed as important legal actors in the management of disputes, are also representatives of the organization being complained about. The implications of this are explored in the context of their claims to be able to adopt independent or impartial third party dispute resolution roles.DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9930.1994.tb00120.xDrawing on a study of 399 hospital complaints entering the National Health Service formal complaints procedure, this paper analyzes the interaction between complainant and hospital as a social episode in which the hospital is called to account for violation of the complainant's normative expectations and makes its response. The non‐instrumental and uncrystallized character of many complaints is emphasized. Letters of complaint and replies from the hospital were readily analyzed in terms of the proposed model, providing insights into the social psychology of complaining, the goals of complainants, and the elements of successful apologies. Factors correlating with complainants' satisfaction further support the model and confirm the importance of a socially appropriate response to complaints. The implications of the study are discussed both in relation to hospital complaints and in the context of the literature on disputing more broadly.State medical licensure boards perform the important functions of investigating allegations that physicians are incompetent or have behaved unprofessionally and of taking disciplinary action where such allegations are substantiated. Given the importance of these tasks, it is surprising that very little is known about how well boards are able to perform them. Most discussion about the effectiveness of medical boards has been based on counts of disciplinary actions (e.g., number of revocations, suspensions and probations imposed per one thousand physicians), which do not give us a full picture of board activity. Very little is known about who complains to medical boards, how allegations of incompetence or unprofessional conduct are investigated, and how boards react once a problem has been confirmed. This article begins to examine this hitherto unexplored process. It concentrates on two main issues. First, it attempts to understand more about those who complain to boards. Treating persons who complain as an example of an aggrieved population, we present a profile of complainants and discuss what might have motivated them to complain and what the objectives of their complaints might be. We also consider the extent to which those who complain are a distinct population, especially focusing on whether or not there is an overlap between complainants and claimants, i.e., those persons who sue for medical malpractice. Second, this article explores the response of one state medical licensure board to public complaints. It examines the process of complaint investigation and the types of action taken by boards against physicians as a result of complaints. Data concerning these processes are considered in the context of the larger question of what functions licensure boards can be expected to perform with respect to identification and disciplining of incompetent physicians.ISBN: 978-1-911114-40-6DOI: https://doi.org/10.4337/9781789905182.00024DOI: https://doi.org/10.4337/9781786433039.00024Mediation is an ancient practice which takes many forms and operates in a wide range of dispute resolution settings. As one of the primary forms of dispute resolution it can, in theory, be distinguished from negotiation and adjudication by the presence of a third party who supports the maintenance of a dialogue. This contribution considers the part that Philip Gulliver’s work has played in our understanding of how disputes evolve and when intervention by a third party is of value. His work alerts us to the cyclical nature of dispute resolution in which the provision of venue, structure and the flow of fresh information helps to fuel discussion and renders resolution possible. Mediation practice in the West has generally idealized a minimal role for mediators in this process. Recent years have also seen the emergence of more active roles for mediators in which they play a more active role in the framing of issues and outcomes.ISBN: 9781782259794ISBN: 978-1-4742-1285-4At the 2009 conference in which the contributors to this book gathered the architect Stephen Quinlan delivered a plenary lecture on the recently built and much discussed Civil Justice Centre in Manchester designed by Denton Corker Marshall. This new court complex is the largest to have been built in England since the Royal Courts of Justice were completed in 1882. The glass fronted court complex, with its nine storey atrium and gravity defying protruding ‘fingers’, could not provide a more stark contrast to George Edmund Street’s ornate gothic revival building in the Strand. But what was most significant about Quinlan’s presentation for the purposes of this chapter was that the first comment in response to it came from an architectural historian who was concerned that the Manchester civil justice centre was not recognizable as a courthouse. Devoid of the form, signs and symbols associated with this established building type, Quinlan’s critic claimed that England’s most important new court building rendered the notion of ‘courthouse’ meaningless. The idea that courts are, and should be, instantly readable is far from being a controversial one. Whilst recognizing a variety of forms adopted by designers in her authoritative account of the history of the English law court, Clare Graham surmises that one of the key characteristics of modern courthouses is that by 1914 their planning was highly distinctive. 1 In their recent review of historic English courts for English Heritage Brodie et al. have also claimed that law courts are designed to be recognized externally and understood internally. 2 In this chapter, I argue that these assertions suggest a certainty about the settled nature of design which is easily disrupted when subjected to closer scrutiny. While it has been suggested that our ideas about what constitute a court are now quite fixed my analysis suggests that the concept of a courthouse to which these authorities allude is actually a very recent invention. Moreover, even if it can be claimed that there is now a recognizable template for courthouse design, I contend that it is one which is in urgent need of review. As reforms of the legal system place increasing emphasis on informality, and the idea of the virtual trial explored by Emma Rowden elsewhere in this collection becomes a reality, I question the legitimacy of confidence in the ongoing relevance of existing templates.ISBN: 9781409431732ISBN: 978-1-137-57430-5The law of contract is ideally suited to teaching from a socio-legal perspective. While doctrinal scholars place primary emphasis on the text, socio-legal researchers prefer to focus on context. They look, in particular, at the extent to which the formal rules of contract are considered legitimate or useful by those for whom they are designed. A wide range of empirical studies of the ‘lived world of contract’ now exist across time, industries and legal systems which suggest that contract law is not always used in the ways anticipated by doctrinal lawyers. Whilst textual analysis remains important, these findings have challenged the academy to consider the legitimacy of laws of contract which do not always reflect the practices and needs of the commercial sphere. They also encourage us to look beyond what Macaulay (2003) has called the paper deal to the range of extra-legal normative frameworks which bind and govern commercial relationships. Research suggests that phenomena such as trust, co-operation and a good reputation can be as effective in making a commercial deal work as the threat of litigation or liquidated damage clauses. In short, socio-legal accounts of contracts encourage scholars to be more modest in their claims about the centrality of law in successful business deals. Despite this active interest in the lived world of contract, it could be argued that socio-legal accounts of contract remain under represented in textbooks written for students. There are a few notable exceptions but most popular textbooks continue to present contract doctrine as a series of rules with their own jurisprudential and internal logic. In other instances, there is a tendency to discuss empirical studies as an ‘add-on’ to discussions of doctrine by way of providing some context but little direct challenge to the canon. Used in this way, socio-legal studies is presented as representing a different world of contract which is of some relevance to hard law but should not be allowed to detract too much from the learning of it. In this chapter we argue that a socio-legal approach can, and should, play a much more central role in our analysis of case law. In particular we attempt to demonstrate that socio-legal approaches can be used as a powerful tool to critique the credibility of contract jurisprudence and imagine different ways of conceiving of exchange. Our position is that legal formalism has tended to encourage the spurious idea that law is in some way autonomous, an end in itself, rather than a means to a legitimate social order.ISBN: 978-0-230-30448-2ISBN: 978-1-8494-6053-8ISBN: 987-1-859-41742-3ISBN: 987-1-859-41742-3This chapter considers the threat to the medical profession posed by medical negligence claims. It develops an important argument made by Dingwall that the threat of litigation is best understood in terms of the symbolic challenge that this form of consumer activism poses to medical autonomy. The chapter is in three main parts. The first section reviews what is known about medical negligence claims. The second section draws on data collected for the evaluation which shed some new light on the threat posed by claims. The third section considers the symbolic threat of medical negligence and argues that it is this factor more than any other which explains the reaction of doctors to medical negligence.ISBN: 978-0198299189ISBN: 978-0335202591ISBN: 978-0335202591ISBN: 978-0335202591In this paper I consider an issue which has long troubled lawyers: what standards should govern grievance procedures? While emphasis has traditionally been places on considering this question in the context of the courts and judicial review I will explore what is considered appropriate in relation to internal review of decisions, in particular the review of decisions in in-house complaints procedures. This particular topic has been afforded little status by academics in their discussion of administrative law. Despite this more citizens will have experience of complaints systems than have even heard of judicial review and the subject is one which is likely to increase in importance as we move into the twenty first century and more emphasis is placed, post-Woolf, on local and less formal resolution of disputes.ISBN: 978-1-9013-6266-4ISBN: 9788489933002ISBN: 978-1854316899ISBN: 978-0632039036ISBN: 9780415055031This book examines how changing understandings of the relationship between government and the governed came to be reflected in the buildings designed to house the modern legal system. It examines the extent to which changing theories of the trial, the pursuit of new rights and a new politics of recognition altered existing hierarchies and expectations about how people should interact with each other in public space and participate in the trial. Drawing on extensive archival resources in the UK, but also using case studies from other jurisdictions, the book details how civil servants, judges, lawyers, architects, engineers and security experts have talked about courthouses over the last 50 years. In doing so, it uncovers a changing history of ideas about how the competing goals of transparency, majesty, participation, security, fairness and authority have been achieved, and the extent to which aspirations towards popular sovereignty, egalitarianism and participation have been realized in physical form. As this book demonstrates, the power of architecture to frame attitudes and expectations of the justice system is much more than an aesthetic or theoretical nicety. Legal subjects live in a world in which the configuration of space, the cues provided about behaviour by the built form and the way in which justice is symbolised play a crucial, but largely unacknowledged, role in creating meaning and constituting legal identities and rights to participate in the civic sphere.ISBN: 9780367208356Legal Architecture addresses how the environment of the trial can be seen as a physical expression of our relationship with ideals of justice. It provides an alternative account of the trial, which charts the troubled history of notions of due process and participation. In contrast to visions of judicial space as neutral, Linda Mulcahy argues that understanding the factors that determine the internal design of the courthouse and courtroom are crucial to a broader and more nuanced understanding of the trial. Partitioning of the courtroom into zones and the restriction of movement within it are the result of turf wars about who can legitimately participate in the legal arena and call the judiciary to account. The gradual containment of the public, the increasing amount of space allocated to advocates, and the creation of dedicated space for journalists and the jury, all have complex histories that deserve attention. But these issues are not only of historical significance. Across jurisdictions, questions are now being asked about the internal configurations of the courthouse and courtroom, and whether standard designs meet the needs of modern participatory democracies: including questions about the presence and design of the modern dock; the ways in which new technologies threaten to change the dynamics of the trial and lead to the dematerialization of our primary site of adversarial practice; and the extent to which courthouses are designed in ways which realise their professed status as public spaces. This fascinating and original reflection on legal architecture will be of interest to socio-legal or critical scholars working in the field of legal geography, legal history, criminology, legal systems, legal method, evidence, human rights and architecture.ISBN: 9780415575393Legal Methods and Systems: Text and Materials uses a text and materials format to provide a mini library and integrated teazching tool for Legal Method, English Legal System and Introduction to Law courses. Introduces students to a range of different ways of thinking about the study of law including doctrinal, socio-legal and critical perspectives. Provides a wealth of materials and commentary, along with a series of focused questions suitable for tutorials and essays. Discusses the implications of the opening of the new Supreme Court and reflects on the success of the Woolf reforms of the civil litigation system. Includes examples and a questions and problems section to help students grasp the subject. Incorporates high0level diagrams and mind maps in order to enhance retention of legal principles and procedures. Includes other user-friendly features such as “key concepts” boxes, suggested further reading and web sources.ISBN: 9780414041837The aim of this research is to establish an independent evidence base for identifying the value and the limits of mediation as an alternative to, or used alongside, judicial review. It has been devised in response to claims made by government and mediation providers that mediation can lead to savings in costs as well as in court time, and provide remedies and solutions to disputes that cannot be offered by the court. These claims will be considered in the specific context of judicial review, which not only has an important constitutional function, but, compared to other forms of civil litigation, offers fl exibility, low costs and speed. Moreover, claims as to the value of mediation need to be examined in light of the realities of judicial review litigation. For example, a large proportion of judicial review claims end in settlements negotiated between the parties, with little input from the court. Therefore, any aspects of added value that mediation may offer need be considered in relation to bilaterally negotiated settlements as well as in relation to judicial determinations. The claims for mediation stand in stark contrast to the low take-up of mediation by lawyers generally. In particular, it is indisputable that the take-up of mediation as an alternative to judicial review is low. The research team was interested in analysing the reasons for this, for instance, whether it comes about as a result of lack of understanding of the process, an assessment of it as adding no value to bilateral negotiations, or more principled concerns such as the importance of a transparent supervisory role for the court, the need to create precedents, and the retreating role of adjudication in public law.Contract Law in Perspective complements 'black letter' treatments of contract by looking at legal doctrine and statutes in their social, political and economic contexts. It increases students' understanding of the law of contract as well as convinces them why it is so important to us all. In addition to describing the key doctrines in the field, it explains the ideology behind them and considers the extent to which they serve the needs of the business community and consumers. The book broadens understanding and appreciation of the subject by reference to the 'big ideas' in contract theory and how these relate to practice at a level which is suitable for students.ISBN: 9780415444323