Samuel Kirwan (Warwick), ‘Breaking Free of Debt: On Legal Advice and “Speculative Time”‘ (28 February 2018)

Wednesday, 28 February 2018, from 2pm to 4pm, Porthania P545 (Faculty room).

The rising tide of household debt across Europe has wide and far-reaching effects, re-shaping relationships, families and whole communities. This talk discusses the work done by UK advice agencies in managing and challenging household debts. It considers first the emotional labour involved in explaining legal frameworks of debt with reference to the Foucault’s work on ‘parrhesia’, and second the broader role in enabling access to otherwise exclusionary legal frameworks as a form of legal ‘commoning’. Yet the talk describes also how these legal, regulatory and advice frameworks remain tied to a ‘disciplinary’ structuring of time that is both out of step with spending patterns and the temporal projections of the credit industry. Drawing on the concept of ‘speculative time’, the paper describes how credit is specifically sold as a disruption of the disciplined life, and how legal activism and critical legal studies must adapt to the changing landscapes of debt and finance under neoliberalism.

The seminar is organized by the disciplinary cluster General Jurisprudential Studies. For further information, please contact Dr Susanna Lindroos-Hovinheimo (susanna.lindroos(a)


Dr Samuel Kirwan is Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow at the Department of Sociology, University of Warwick, UK. He is currently working on a project entitled ‘A Sociology of Everyday Indebtedness’. The project investigates how households deal with and experience different debts, with a particular focus upon the growing problem of ‘priority’ debts, namely Council Tax and rent arrears, understandings of the Debt Relief Order and other insolvency measures, and how debt shapes familial and social relations.

Before Warwick Dr Kirwan worked at the University of Bristol on the ‘New Sites of Legal Consciousness’ Project, looking at the work and experience of advisers with the Citizens Advice Service.

How to Research Transparency: A TrUE Workshop (22-23 March 2018)

The EU Treaties create a clear presumption for transparency and access to information which is assumed to lead to increased citizen participation. In reality, opposition seems to exist. The ‘Transparency in the EU – From Reaction to Manifesto?’ (TrUE, funded by the Academy of Finland 2017-2021) project aims to break down the practices assigned to ‘transparency’, in particular in regard to ‘participation’ and ‘efficiency’ in the EU. It will critically investigate the promise invested in transparency both on a theoretical (What does the nexus between transparency and participation imply?) and a practical level (Does it work as it should? Is it changing?).

The workshop concentrates on the methodological aspects of the TrUE project. It brings together some of the key authors on transparency in the EU. and the TrUE team to discuss their methodological choices. The workshop is organised in collaboration with the UEF Law School, the European University Institute and the Helsinki Socio-Legal Initiative (HSLI).

The event is open to all. Kindly register by filling this form.

All are welcome!


Day 1 – Thursday 22 March 2018

Morning Session – Room P545

10:00-10:15 Opening Remarks, Päivi Leino-Sandberg (University of Helsinki)

10:15-11:00 On researching for Democratic Decision-Making in the EU: Technocracy in Disguise? (Routledge 2013), Anne Elizabeth Stie (University of Agder)

11:00-11:30 Coffee break

11:30-12:15 On researching for Living Transparency. The Development of Access to Documents in the Council of the EU and its Democratic Implications (University of Amsterdam 2017), Maarten Hillebrandt (Bielefeld University)

12:15-13:00 On researching for Deliberation behind Closed Doors. Transparency and Lobbying In the European Union (ECPR Press 2007) and Unveiling the Council of the EU. Games Governments Play in Brussels (Palgrave 2008), Daniel Naurin (University of Oslo)

13:00-14:00 Lunch (invitation only)

Afternoon Session – Room P417

14:00-14:30 Theory as a tool for studying transparency & participation in EU law: pros and cons? Päivi Neuvonen (University of Helsinki)

14:30-15:00 The teleology of transparency – constituting the institutions of public opinion, Vesa Heikkinen (University of Helsinki)

15:00-15:30 The intersections of transparency, efficiency and quality of legislation, Daniel Wyatt (University of Helsinki)

15:30-16:00 Action research, Päivi Leino-Sandberg (University of Helsinki)

Day 2 – Friday 23 March 2018

Morning Session – Room P545

10:00-10:45 What I have learned from researching transparency and on the challenges ahead, Deirdre Curtin (European University Institute)

10:45-11:15 Coffee break

11:15-12:00 Interviews as a means to bring transparency to litigation objectives, Hans-W Micklitz (European University Institute and University of Helsinki)

12:00-13:00 Interviewing lawyers, Päivi Leino-Sandberg (University of Helsinki) and Emilia Korkea-aho (University of Eastern Finland and University of Helsinki)

13:00-14:00 Lunch (invitation only)

Afternoon Session – Room P545

14:00-14:30 Transparency’s metaphorical promise, Ida Koivisto (University of Helsinki)

14:30-15:00 Arguing transparency in the CJEU: points of law raised by intervening Member States, Liisa Leppävirta (University of Helsinki)

15:00-15:15 Closing Remarks, Päivi Leino-Sandberg (University of Helsinki)

Elizabeth Kirk (Nottingham Trent), ‘Mapping International Law to Dynamic Three-Dimensional Ecosystems’ (19 January 2018)

Friday, 19 January 2018, from 2 to 4pm, Language Center (Fabianinkatu 26), seminar room 309.

The world’s marine ecosystems change naturally across both space and time, and in so doing they provide a challenge for law. Law is designed to ensure certainty; as such, it tends to grant rights and entrench agreed ways of behaving, including agreed ways of interacting with ecosystems. The result is that law cannot easily respond to either natural changes in ecosystems or to the impacts of human use of the oceans. This in itself is problematic – it paves the way for overfishing, and for floating islands of plastics and other rubbish. If law is to be fit for the purpose of managing dynamic three-dimensional marine ecosystems, it may have to change. The question then is: how should it change?

Traditionally, international law regulated use of the oceans by dividing them, the uses made of them, and the problems that arise, into sectors. This division of the oceans, largely made on the basis of lines drawn on two-dimensional maps, has given individual states jurisdiction over certain areas of the oceans, with the high seas left for all to use as they wish. Sometimes these individual states come together to form groups, sharing their jurisdiction to address single-issue problems such as overfishing or marine pollution. As often as states cooperate in the management of the marine environment, disputes over its use will arise. The result is a fragmented, or perhaps perforated, system of governance. Although some legal structures and norms exist, there are significant holes in the system.

In this lecture, Elizabeth will contrast this traditional approach of international law to ocean governance with the more holistic approaches now being adopted, such as the ecosystem approach. In doing so, she will explore the gaps and problems that remain in the ability of international law to govern naturally dynamic three-dimensional marine ecosystems that are increasingly affected by human activities.


Professor Elizabeth Kirk is Professor of International Environmental Law at Nottingham Trent University, UK, and Deputy Chair of the Governing Board of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law and sits on the Managing Board of the European Environmental Law Forum.

Elizabeth’s research highlights weaknesses in current understanding of the production of normativity in both national and international law and provides methods for better understanding these processes. For example, Elizabeth’s research shows that the form of law is less important than the content and that other factors, such as trust and educational activities may be more important, in the production of normativity.

It also changes conceptions of the role of science in both international and national environmental law, demonstrating that the role of science is often less significant than one would anticipate. Instead Elizabeth’s research has led to the insight that the key to normativity (and hence compliance) lies in the role played by a variety of actors in shaping the development of legal norms, through formal participation in decision-making, direct and indirect lobbying, the linking of disparate legal regimes and the creation of new cultural norms, which influence the development of legal norms and the implementation process.

EU Law and Social Relations (4-5 December 2017)

Research seminar, 4–5 December 2017
Venue: room P545 (5th floor of the Law Faculty building Porthania, Yliopistonkatu 3, Helsinki)

Monday 4 December

1 pm-3 pm

Keynote talk by Professor Loïc Azoulai (Sciences Po Paris): EU Law is not free from its Forms of Life

3 pm-5 pm

Veronica Corcodel (Sciences Po Paris): The Legal Construction of Migrant Forms of Life: From Calais to Reception and Orientation Centers
Comments: Magdalena Kmak (Associate Professor in Minority Studies, Åbo Akademi University)

Hanna Eklund (Sciences Po Paris): An Initial Reflection on EU Law and the Nationalist Form of Life
Comments: Päivi Neuvonen (Academy of Finland Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Helsinki)

Tuesday 5 December

10 am-1 pm

Lola Avril (Sciences Po Paris): The European Regulated Professions as Forms of Life – A Sociological Account of the Attempt to Build a European Legal Profession (1957-1977)
Comments: Heikki Pihlajamäki (Professor of Comparative Legal History, University of Helsinki)

Toni Marzal (Sciences Po Paris): Territoriality of EU Law and Forms of Life
Comments: Suvi Sankari (Academy of Finland Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Helsinki)

FOLIE studies the role of European Union law in social relations and practices pertaining to migration, families, markets, territory, nations and other such formations of social life. The director of the group is Professor Loïc Azoulai, who has published extensively on theory of European law. His latest books include the edited volume ‘Persons and Personhood in EU Law’ (L. Azoulai, S. Barbou des Places, E. Pataut eds.). Please find more information about FOLIE here:

Everybody is welcome to the event, no prior registration needed. Coffee will be served.

Susanna Lindroos-Hovinheimo & Suvi Sankari

George Williams (UNSW), ‘The Problem of Race and the Australian Constitution’ (27 November 2017)

Porthania, P545 on Monday 27 November 2017, from 1pm to 3pm, Porthania P545.

Australia’s 1901 Constitution is one of the oldest in the world. Not surprisingly, it reflects the values of its nineteenth century drafters, including on matters of race. In particular, the Constitution still permits racial discrimination, and otherwise enables discriminatory treatment against Indigenous peoples. This talk will examine these issues, and how Australia is struggling to change its national Constitution, by way of a referendum to recognise Indigenous peoples and to move on from attitudes of the past.

You may find more information on Professor George Williams’ expertise and his areas of research, at

You are all cordially welcome to attend this lecture organized by the Postgraduate Seminar in Constitutional Law.

Regulating mixed intimacies – Symposium with Betty de Hart (19 October 2017)

Thursday 19 October 2017, 2pm to 5pm, Porthania P545 (Faculty Room)

With a focus on the regulation of ‘interracial’ relationships and families especially in European migration laws, the symposium will discuss the role of law and lawyers in the development of racial thinking in Europe. The theme will be addressed particularly with a view to socio-legal methodology.

Keynote: Professor Betty de Hart (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), ‘Regulating mixed intimacies through migration law: from the colonies to the EU’

Mixed couples and marriages have always had an ambiguous and often problematic relationship with the law. On one hand, mixed marriages have been seen as a key indicator of sociocultural integration into mainstream society. In terms of the law, this perception has been expressed, for example, as privileged access to citizenship or migration status for immigrant family members of citizens. On the other hand, mixed marriages have been seen as a threat to society and social cohesion. Professor de Hart argues that these contradictory perceptions of mixed relationships have informed the development of migration law over time. Building on literature on the regulation of mixed marriages in law, as well as gender and migration law, she uses the Netherlands as a case study to demonstrate how migration law has been used as a tool to prevent certain types of “undesirable” mixed couples and how this approach has informed Dutch as well as European migration law until today.

Professor de Hart’s key note will be followed by commentary notes from Magdalena Kmak, Associate Professor in Minority Studies (Åbo Akademi University) and post-doctoral researcher Saara Pellander (University of Helsinki).

All are cordially welcome. Please register to the event by 18 October at

The symposium is arranged by the Transnational Muslim Marriages: Wellbeing, Law and Gender project, in conjunction with the Postgraduate Seminar in Constitutional Law and Helsinki Socio-Legal Initiative (HSLI).

Professor Betty de Hart is a legal scholar and sociologist of law. Her research focuses on legal, historical and empirical research in the national, European and international rules that transnational families encounter, the views behind these rules as well as the impact in the everyday lives of transnational families. It provides new insights into the meanings of nationality, citizenship and belonging and continues the influential academic work done by Dutch scholars on the intersections of family law and migration law. In 2016, Professor de Hart was granted an ERC Consolidator Grant for a research project. Prior to her chair as Professor of Transnational Families and Migration Law at VU Amsterdam, Professor de Hart was Professor of Migration Law at University of Amsterdam and Associate Prof. at Radboud University Nijmegen.

Whither, legal scholarship? Rethinking a discipline with Professor Hans-W. Micklitz (21 September 2017)

M.C. Escher, Relativity (1953)

Thursday, 21 September 2017, 10am, Porthania P674 (6th floor). Please note new venue.

Law and society or ‘socio-legal’ scholars may sometimes consider their doctrinal colleagues as old-fashioned and inward-looking, unable to academically appreciate the social and political contexts of law. Doctrinal scholars, on the other hand, may find law and society scholarship as not much more than amateur social science. Yet both traditions arise from a common core and face similar challenges.

If legal scholarship becomes too separated from legal practice, legal scholars may soon find themselves redundant as supply does not meet demand. But if legal scholars are unable to explain to colleagues from other disciplines what is properly academic about their research, which methods are appropriate and why, and what distinguishes excellence in legal research, they may end up in isolation and suffer a very similar fate.

A debate is therefore required on what is common ground for legal scholarship of the traditional doctrinal kind and more socio-legal or law and society types of approaches, and how they differ. Should legal scholarship aspire to the status of a science and gradually adopt the methods, quality standards, and practices of other social sciences? If yes, to what extent? Can traditional doctrinal scholarship adapt to the socio-legal challenge? If yes, how? What methods are required to study law in its social context?

Rethinking Legal Scholarship (CUP 2017)

Finland Distinguished Professor Hans-W. Micklitz, Professor of Economic Law at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence, has co-edited a collection of essays addressing these issues from a Transatlantic perspective. In this seminar, Professor Micklitz will elaborate both on the book project as a whole and on his own contribution to the book on the strengths and advantages of the European tradition. The presentation will be followed by a q&a session and a general discussion. The event will be of special interest to colleagues working in the doctrinal tradition who are interested in improving and updating the scholarly quality of their work.

Please register your intention to participate by filling in this form no later than Friday, 15 September 2017. You will receive the reading material for the event upon registration. Participants are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the reading material prior to the event.