It has become almost commonplace to hear that we live in uncertain times. Our world is a constantly insecure one, with rapidly changing technology, economic instability, the erosion of rights protection across the globe, challenges to the basis of our democratic systems and the contours of nation- states, all in the shadow of an ever-more imposing climate crisis and the throes of a global pandemic. The law has many roles to play in keeping society afloat in these turbulent times. Legal systems can provide structure to our society, creating new frameworks that can anticipate future challenges and build processes for resolving uncertainty in how our society is governed. The law can shape human behaviour to manage or reduce uncertainty and charters of legally protected rights can provide a guaranteed basis of stable and equal treatment for all in times of change, especially where fundamental protections are under threat. But the law itself can also be an instrument of uncertainty, where it is co-opted for divisive or partisan ends or where it is set in broader unstable regulatory systems. Where, then, does the law sit in this age of uncertainty? Is it acting as a force for good in our society, or do our legal systems need reform to ensure this? Has it fulfilled this role in the past, and will it continue to do so in the future?

The Edinburgh Postgraduate Law Conference 2022 (EPLC 2022) aims to explore these questions by looking at the various roles of the law in different areas of contemporary and future social life. We therefore invite proposals that address this topic. Proposals may take a contemporary or historical perspective, and may focus on any area of law, including both public and private law, legal history and legal theory. Proposals from the field of criminology which discuss the role of relevant non- legal as well as legal institutions in managing uncertainty are also welcome.

The theme is deliberately broad and open to interpretation. The scope of ‘the future’ is wide, ranging from legal issues in the present or the upcoming three to five years, through to those taking place over the course of decades and beyond. ‘Uncertainty’ is similarly capacious and might include issues in defining or establishing what the law is, the challenges and consequences of change in legal systems, and broader systemic uncertainty and instability to which the law is expected to respond to ensure a flourishing and harmonious society. Specific questions or topics fitting within the conference them may include:

  • To what extent does the law promote certainty in its different areas of operation?
  • How does the law guarantee certainty for individuals?
  • Where, at present, is the law producing uncertainty? What reforms are needed to change this?
  • Is law-making by definition a process that generates certainty?
  • Does the law play a beneficial role in managing broader changes in the legal system?

Oral presentations will be 12 minutes each in length, whilst posters will be limited to A2 size.

To apply to present, please send the following by Friday 11 March 2022 to with the subject ‘EPLC 2022 Abstract Submission’:

  1. Abstract of no more than 300 words.
  2. Completed Biographical Details form.

A PDF copy of this Call for Papers can be accessed here.