ANR    CNRS
ANR Programme 2009-2012
(ANR-08-GOUV-064)
image of courtroom
JUST-INDIA
A Joint Programme on Justice and Governance in India and South Asia
(Hosted by Centre for Himalayan Studies)

5- Transnational Cases

Section 5: Conflict of laws in transnational cases

This section deals with litigation involving South Asians in France, the United Kingdom, and United States. Socio-legal expertise and mediation is often requested for assisting the judge or the jury on cases that include a variety of litigation ranging from the requisites for marriage to murder, and from the request for social benefits (i.e. retirement, child benefits etc.) to citizenship claims. The satisfactory settlement of such issues from the perspectives of the parties involved as well as of society, depends on the appropriate mediation of the legal practices of South Asian immigrants into the law of the "host" countries. What emerges now is, on the one hand, a growing institutional anxiety vis-à-vis ethnic minorities, and, on the other hand, a widespread legal awkwardness in accommodating the complex needs of the global professional market. At the same time socio-legal scholarship is becoming aware of the reverse trend to the conventional legal transplantations bringing Western models to the countries of the “South”, and of the miscommunication arising in terms of ethnic and gender conflicts.

Specific focus is directed to the language of the law by exploring the legal formulations used in the everyday interactions within the formal setting of law-courts and migrations procedures. Gender and ethnicity are investigated as crucial variants. Data is collected through the observation of litigations involving South Asian born migrants and their subsequent generations. This section highlights, on the one hand, the array of legal solutions that South Asian migrants are susceptible to export, and, on the other hand, the potential miscommunication in the interaction between migrants and legal authorities.

This section concerns Livia Holden (coordinator), Véronique Bouillier, and Prakash Shah.

Detailed projects

Véronique Bouillier

focuses on the relationships that people of South Asian origin but living in France have with the French legal system and its court procedures. How does the French judicial system deal with the linguistic and cultural diversity of the people they summon or who appeal to it? And what do those coming under the jurisdiction understand of the system ? what do they expect and how do they fit in ? I make use of the published decisions and judgements (from Appeal Courts and Cour de Cassation), combining this data with ethnographic observation in Courts and with interviews with professional actors (judges, lawyers, interpreters).

Prakash Shah

focuses on the relationships between policies, legislation and case law in the United Kingdom. Through the analysis of current legal cases and modern legislation he investigates the consequences of the development of a substantial British born South Asian population, in particular the demands for recognition of group specific issues as well as particular questions of legal importance, notably in matrimonial contexts.

Livia Holden

analyzes the practice of providing expert reports for the settlement of transnational disputes related to South Asian Diaspora and migration in Australia, United Kingdom, France, and the United States. Her core objective is to contextually establish the features and the conditions of the successful expert-report from the different perspectives involved in transnational cases: the perspective of the clients and of the socio-legal expert in the first place, but also of the legal counsels and of the decision-making authority (judge or immigration officer). By focusing on the role of mediation that the socio-legal expert plays in the interaction between minority groups and legal institutions, she aims at: (1) understanding how the practice of providing expert reports influences the legal construction of ethnicity and thereby offers an adequate service to minority groups; (2) investigating how the role of socio-legal expert re-shapes the relationship between lawyer, clients, and decision-making authority.