Emma Jones and Anna Kawalek

Themed 'Therapeutic Jurisprudence ('TJ') in the United Kingdom ('UK') and beyond' , this special edition for the European Journal of Legal Studies showcases some of the key work that has developed within the area through a series of academic articles and book reviews.

The scholarly work of TJ theorizes that the law has human, emotional, and psychological repercussions. [1] Through its broad application, TJ is concerned with therapeutic or anti-therapeutic consequences incurred by anyone with a stake in the law or legal processes, across every legal domain, and within any type of legal setting. [2] Its interdisciplinary nature lends itself to insights brokered by the behavioural sciences to help examine how the law impacts upon health, in particular psychological wellbeing, and human dignity. [3] This tends to be achieved by examining both practical (wine) and systemic (bottle) dimensions. [4] As TJ began to reconceptualise the law into a social force in the 1980s, [5] it soon proliferated internationally, attracting scholars, practitioners, and students from jurisdictions all over the world. This recently reached a climax when the International Society for TJ ('ISTJ') was founded in 2017 to compile and consolidate this wide-reaching interest, leading to the development of a formal website, [6] and a series of geographically defined jurisdictional Chapters specialising in their own local niches.

Despite the international backdrop, TJ in the UK lagged behind in terms of levels of professional, academic and public awareness of its insights, an observation made respectively by both Dr. Emma Jones and Dr. Anna Kawalek prior to the International Congress for Law and Mental Health, hosted by Charles University, in Prague 2017. Jones and Kawalek met for the first time at the Prague Congress and shared their frustration at the UK's lack of consistent progress in the area whilst also acknowledging its potential. Shortly after, the two UK-based academics set up the TJ in the UK Chapter, as cofounders and cochairs together with a small group of dedicated academics. What followed were the first and second TJ in the UK meetings, hosted respectively in Milton Keynes (UK) and online (due to the pandemic) to gauge interest, foster collaboration, and encourage discussions about next steps. Membership of the Chapter increased in rapidly, and now includes a range of individuals from various fields and backgrounds. The Chapter has also been in dialogue with the Centre for Justice Innovation (which is modelled upon the similar Red Hook Center in New York). [7] This in turn has raised the profile of TJ in the UK.

All of this forms the context, basis, and rationale for developing a UK-specific Special Edition in TJ, with some of the papers previously featuring at the UK meetings. However, the support and publicity provided by the ISTJ, and TJ's interdisciplinary and, at times, elastic nature, attracted submission of a broader range of academic work spanning beyond the scope of UK itself (hence the title 'in the UK and beyond'). This is really a reflection of the fact that TJ is a collaborative, collective and international effort, as are the agendas and priorities that define, energise, and distinguish the movement. The broader range of manuscripts have been a welcome inclusion to the Edition, nuancing the discussions and increasing the impact of both the Special Edition and the ideas and thought processes that are fuelling and driving the development of the UK Chapter. What has emerged is an eclectic mix of papers and book reviews, demonstrating the multifarious efforts and effects of TJ, and the fact that this is a field in which work continues to develop internationally. This illustrates the global reach of TJ's key tenets, despite jurisdictional differences and idiosyncrasies, highlighting that we can, and should, learn from one another at a broader community level.

We begin our Special Edition with John Stannard's paper 'Engage, explain, encourage, enforce: Legitimacy and the role of rhetoric in the coronavirus lockdown'. His topical focus on the UK's approach to enforcing lockdown measures considers the guidelines issued to police from four standpoints - legitimacy, psychological jurisprudence, rhetoric and TJ and identifies the likely therapeutic benefits of the approach being taken. In doing so, Stannard demonstrates the importance of applying TJ principles to contemporary and novel issues, even (or perhaps especially) within times of crisis and uncertainty.

The next paper within the Special Edition is James Marson, Hasan Alissa and Katy Ferris's discussion of the procedural rules surrounding the Untraced Drivers' Agreement 2017. This demonstrates a UK-specific application of TJ principles in a way which once again illustrates their utility and value, this time through arguing for a new form of Agreement based upon principles of conscious contracting.

The Special Edition then moves on to what is perhaps more familiar territory for TJ, namely, criminal justice. Amanda Wilson's paper here develops previous work in this area by providing a critical discussion of TJ, with a focus on the challenges of underdeveloped aspects of TJ's philosophical and empirical dimensions and their impact upon the criminal justice system, as well as upon how to develop these dimensions going forward. This examination is well-complemented by Katherine J. McLachlan's consideration of trauma-informed sentencing and how this relates to TJ approaches to sentencing. Drawing on Australian examples, McLachlan identifies both similarities and differences between the two approaches, concluding overall that a focus upon the wellbeing of offenders can assist in promoting better sentencing outcomes.

The Special Edition then moves on to the area of family law. Paul Gavin's contribution focuses upon the potential future development of the family courts in Ireland. He argues that specialist children and family courts should adhere to TJ principles to foster a respectful and supportive environment. A fascinating comparison arises through the topic of the next paper, by Gabriela Mckellar, which explores her experience in implementing TJ principles as a Magistrate at the Family Court in Wynberg, Cape Town, South Africa. She argues that concepts from define restorative practices can and should be used to influence and measure the magistrate's practice and the outcomes of the court proceedings for TJ compliance.

The following paper by James Marson and Katy Ferris focuses upon a related area of law, namely 'Dispute Resolution in Refugee Family Reunion Law'. It considers how a more humanitarian (TJ-aligned) approach, potentially including the use of mediation, could provide benefits to applicants and their sponsors within the legal system of England and Wales.

The final two papers of the Special Edition focus upon the role of lawyers as legal actors. Karni Perlman & Yael Ben-Saadon discuss their research based on interviews with lawyers representing clients in the Israeli Community Courts and Appeal Committees for Army Veterans' Disability Claims. In particular, they explore the perceptions involved in lawyers undertaking a therapeutic role and whether bottom-up systemic change can be achieved. Emma Jones uses TJ principles as the basis of her exploration of the disciplinary regime used to regulate the legal profession, particularly solicitors, in England and Wales. She argues the current legal regime has anti-therapeutic effects which need to be ameliorated not only through changes to the procedure itself, but also through wider structural and cultural change within law.

Each of the above papers is not only a strong and valuable contribution to the TJ literature in its own right, but also demonstrates the broad vision and common understanding shared by the TJ community, which bring together the collective efforts of the contributing scholars. We hope that this Special Edition is able to provide a space for demonstrating the need for wide dissemination of a TJ perspective and ethos both within the UK and internationally. Our aim is that it serves to show how TJ provides a rich and versatile set of principles and ideas that can be used collaboratively, at an international level, but also be extrapolated and applied at more local levels.

If you are interested in becoming involved in the UK Charter going forward, please visit our website https://www.tjuk.org/ or email us at istjchapteruk@gmail.com


[1] Nigel Stobbs (2019), 'Therapeutic jurisprudence as theoretical and applied research' in N. Stobbs, L.Bartels,&M.Vols (Eds.).The methodology and practice of therapeutic jurisprudence (pp.29 to 58). (Durham, N.C: Carolina Academic Press 2019

[2] David B. Wexler & Bruce J. Winick, Judging in a therapeutic key: Therapeutic jurisprudence and the courts (Durham, N.C: Carolina Academic Press 2003)

[3] David C. Yamada, 'Therapeutic Jurisprudence: Foundations, Expansion, and Assessment' (2021). University of Miami Law Review, Vol. 75, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3777552 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3777552

[4] Ibid.

[5] David B. Wexler and Bruce J. Winick 'Therapeutic jurisprudence as a new approach to mental health law policy analysis and research'. [1991] University of Miami Law Review, 45(5), 979-1004.