Breaking the Courtroom Code: Client Initiatives in Finnish Civil Hearings
Author: Haavisto, V.
Source: International Journal for the Semiotics of Law, Volume 15, Number 4, 2002 , pp. 399-409(11)
Studies on courtroom discourse have traditionally found the court client marginalized and suppressed by legal professionals, who largely dominate the courtroom interaction. The recent implementation of a procedural reform in Finland makes relevant an examination of the verbal contributions of clients in civil cases. Has the reform of civil hearing practices made any more room for clients' participation and agency in their own cases? Focusing on the client's contribution in constructing a case, this article introduces the analysis of client initiatives and suggests that the principals' contribution in the hearings is much more than just giving information. The principals may be active participants who seek to influence the dispute and its construction during the proceedings. Most importantly, the analysis also shows evidence of expanding client initiatives and their powerful discursive tools. For the legal professionals, this poses a remarkable challenge to learn from in order to develop trials as processes in which the dispute as well as the script for the proceedings are negotiated between the participants. The cases analyzed project a future characterized by growing participation among clients and an increasing intensity and quality of their contribution. The findings suggest that clients are interested in and capable of contributing to and affecting the dispute resolution, which signals a potential shift in collaboration between clients and legal professionals.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Center for Activity Theory and Developmental Work Research, Department of Education, University of Helsinki, P.O Box 47, 00014 Helsinki, Finland E-mail: Vaula.email@example.com
Publication date: 2002-01-01