Court Forms as Part of Online Courts: Elicitation and Communication in the Early Stages of Legal Proceedings

Tatiana Grieshofer (Corresponding / Lead Author)

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The article explores court forms as an interactive genre essential for legal-lay communication in civil and family proceedings: court forms elicit key information from predominantly lay users for the purposes of court administration and the judiciary. The information presented in court forms defines the agenda and communicative focus of the subsequent hearings and settlement negotiations, and in some instances even the path the proceedings would take. It is thus important to consider court forms in terms of their comprehensibility as well as functionality for eliciting legally coherent narratives and facilitating efficient engagement of lay participants with the proceedings. The case study presented in the article draws on the combination of corpus linguistics and discourse analysis to explore two versions of the court form most frequently used by self-represented parties in England and Wales, ‘Form C100: Apply for a court order to make arrangements for a child or resolve a dispute about their upbringing’. The comparison of the paper form and its redesigned online version identifies the improvements made as part of the digitisation process but also indicates communicative challenges which can prevent the lay person from presenting the relevant information. The discussion provides an opportunity to reflect on the role of language in online courts.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalInternational Journal for the Semiotics of Law
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished (VoR) - 29 Mar 2023


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